Todd Kelly, the Personable Technician, started his computer repair business four years ago. Now he’s a Top Pro who builds high-end home theaters, installs security systems and sets up computer labs. He shares his story about coming out and how being on Thumbtack has given him the time to focus on himself.
"I was 26 when I came out. I had just come home from a Mormon mission. I tried my best, but I fell into a horrible depression — as one would, when you’re gay and Mormon. It got worse and worse, so I went to live with my father. That’s when I came out. And my father kicked me out.
I lost everything. I was homeless for six months. Eventually I got a part-time job at the Apple Store, and I was able to find a bike and rent an apartment. But I had no one. If I failed, there was no safety net. There was no mom or dad that would back me up, no friends who would support me.
Coming out was the most difficult and loneliest thing I have ever done. When you grow up Mormon and gay, it creates a lot of problems for you emotionally. Picture a kid who grew up where every time something gay come up on television, the father changes the channel in audible disgust. Grew up with siblings who called things gay. Grew up with no positive connotations having to do with homosexuality. So when the thought in your head is “Ooh, I like that person over there,” and it’s a person of the same sex? You push the thought out immediately. You begin to not acknowledge things about yourself. Years later, by the time you finally come out, you are the emotional equivalent of a thirteen year old.
So when I came out of the closet, my primary goal was not just financial or professional success. It was to be able to do something that would grant me enough money to pay my bills and the free time so I could focus on my own self-development. I decided to start my own computer repair business. I Googled around and looked into ways that I could get clients — that’s how I found Thumbtack. Eventually my work from Thumbtack paid me more than the Apple Store. Four years later, I’m a Top Pro and I do high-end home services.
Thumbtack helped me grow because I’m in charge of my own schedule. I can make the time to teach myself, to carefully sift through issues and replace bad habits that I had while in the closet, with good, healthy habits. It’s tremendously difficult. I can focus on me in a way that I absolutely could not do in a 9-5 job.
I love my life. I’m very grateful for it. You don’t go through all of that because you hate life. You go through all of it because you want to overcome your challenges and become a better person. You just have to realize that you can’t fix everything the way you want to.
Being able to diagnose anything, whether it comes down to technology or your own emotional issues, comes from a deep understanding of how things actually work. I’m not going to tell a client that I can definitely help them get rid of all their computer viruses and they’ll never get one again, because I know it’s their behavior that caused them to get those viruses in the first place. And for me, it’s not going to get fixed immediately. There’s a process to healing. Sometimes you just have to ride stuff out."
This article was edited from a transcript of an interview conducted by Thumbtack.