When it comes to music, I tend to like artists who aren't mainstream like what you find on pop radio. I enjoy the idea that I'm going to find that next great star before everyone else. I found one who became a good friend. I was watching YouTube videos one day when I found Caleb. His song, "Gone" was really great. As I began looking more closely at the rest of his channel, I was floored when I realized he had two moms and was very supportive of LGBT equality just like me.
This happened to be around the same time my brothers and I were looking for teenage panelists to speak on our panel, "Straight Talk from Teens about Having Not-So-Straight Parents," for the Out & Equal Workplace Conference. We were the first group of youth to ever submit a proposal for a workshop. Caleb would be a great match for the panel, so I decided to contact him again. He was enthusiastic about being on the panel, and we also began to talk about a possible opportunity to perform at the conference.
A few phone calls later, and Caleb was invited to perform from the main stage in front of thousands. All the plans for the conference were coming together well. It was actually all kind of strange -- this 15-year-old girl connects with this 15-year-old boy through YouTube, and they make plans to meet in Minneapolis for a corporate diversity conference? Really? Does that really happen? We didn't actually meet until arriving in Minneapolis. We all connected immediately -- kids, parents, everyone -- like we had known each other for years.
The first day we had a meeting about the panel. Not long after that, Caleb started what was to be a series of performances by singing for the employees of EY (Ernst & Young), my mom's company. Being very charismatic on stage, he quickly won over the audience to the point where people were approaching me asking where they could purchase his album. Offers to perform in Monte Carlo and other places started to appear. One reception led to another. We were even all invited to a VIP reception with GLSEN. He continued to impress the audiences including employees from Google, Aetna, MMC and many others. We had a blast with so many great people. The only challenge was finding our way back to the hotel through the crazy tunnels of Minneapolis. In less than 12 hours we were laughing and hanging out like we had been friends for years.
The next morning started with our workshop. They gave us a double room, but it was standing room only and ended with a standing ovation. To be honest, I was worried about his ability to speak in front of people. I knew he had never done anything like this before. However, he was incredibly articulate and definitely a great addition, our moderator John Kandray from EY, Hannah Meacock-Ross from COLAGE, my brothers (Lucas and Ian) and me. Whether he is singing or speaking, his success comes from being honest and real.
Caleb ended the week with a bang by receiving a standing ovation from his performance of "You're Not Alone" in front of the entire conference. Although only 15, Caleb has participated in so many charitable and anti-bullying events. Seeing someone my age taking such a strong stance against bullying and accepting others as they are is inspirational for not only me, but for everyone who has had the chance to listen to his songs like "You're Not Alone" and "More Time." It's refreshing to see such a young artist who is touching on subject matters that teenagers with low self-confidence really need to hear. There is no doubt in my mind that Caleb is going to do great things with his music in the future. Personally, I can't wait for the day that his songs are on the top of the charts, and I can say that I knew him when we were fifteen and lost roaming through the streets of Minneapolis. His album is one of my current favorites, and I definitely believe I will be seeing more of him in the future.