Salman Husainy was distraught.
The gay Pakistani native, who grew up in Central California, was struggling to reconcile his Muslim faith - which is an integral part of his life - with his sexuality, which is condemned by his faith.
At the same time, the then 18-year-old was pressured by family expectations to marry, have kids and pass on the family name.
"I tried to suppress it as much as I could. I wanted to make my family happy. But it didn't work," says the 33-year-old Long Beach resident. "I felt like I was suffocating inside."
Husainy found solace away from home when he attended the University of California at Irvine. He was able to think independently of his family and faith and ready to confront himself, he says.