This is King, reporting that I recently joined on as part of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC). To those of you unfamiliar with NYAC, its the ONLY LEADING national organization dedicated to fight discrimination against youth, especially those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) and assist them to becoming the future.
The organization was founded in 1993, with a vision to direct programs that would empower youth to change their communities, on a local, state, and national level. Such conflict resolution trainings, peer engagements, oppression fighting workshops, and policy efforts made NYAC an innovator at promoting the leadership and wellness of LGBTQ youth and their allies.
Many of you may know about my work profile, but do not know the course of events that spurred me into such actions. My personal belief is that it's essential for an organization's members to be open about their own personal lives and their intentions in order for everyone to succeed.
My journey first started with major lows in elementary school where I was constantly bullied and taunted for being outspoken and "different." I grew up in a household that embraced traditional religious views on families and looked down upon those who were not part of the norm. After enduring so much harassment and now knowing whom I could turn to, I developed a deep depression and turned towards self-injury as an escape. Exerting pain on myself and wishing I wasn't alive plagued my mindset constantly during my middle school and early high school experience. The homophobic slurs that surrounded my campus got too much for me to handle and I dropped out of high school. As a last resort, I wounded myself greatly and tried to overdose on a combination of various prescription medications. After miraculously surviving such circumstances, my dad guaranteed me that whatever inner demons I was facing, he was going to be there no matter what.
With his acknowledgment, I was finally able to come to terms with my own sexual orientation and find a balance with it in accords with my spirituality. I decided that with his support, I would go back and attain that coveted high school diploma. I started my junior year at a new [continuation] high school to reinvent myself and make up for loss time. It wasn't before long that I met other youth who underwent similar struggles and were scrutinized by everyone around, including their own families, for wanting an education. In addition, I saw derogatory slurs and bullying happen in front of my eyes... an indicator of my past memories. My desire to stop this injustice once and for all led me to find resources that would promote peace among individuals, know what rights youth were entitled to, bridge the divide that caused homophobia/transphobia, and encourage other high schoolers to take initiative to be leaders. In return, I stepped up to the mantle, took charge, and became a fierce presence in my school. I became affiliated with the most powerful clubs, founded my school's first-ever GSA club - under the inclusive alias "Alliance for Equality" and met local leaders who introduced me to the entire social justice movement.
It didn't get easier (yet) - I will tell you that much. I didn't come out to my parents until much time had passed since my intervention. By becoming involved, I learned it was important for other youth to know that such dedicated individuals like myself were also out to their parents, regardless if they were supportive or not. I took the chance and though my dad didn't say anything at all, it hit my mom the hardest and completely caught her off-guard. She was baffled, confused, asking if it was her own fault, etc. Afterwards, she looked at me, her oldest son, with the most scornful look and told me to not come back. I was devastated and heartbroken, not knowing what to do next.
However, this vulnerable period of sorrow didn't last for long. The new friends I made at my school and in my community became a second family. They took me in during my homelessness, with their parents encouraging me to use the potential I had to graduate from high school no matter what and continue persevering with an ardent spirit.
I took their welcoming arms as a herald - that it was okay to be someone who was raised in a working-class area, to be a person of color, to be someone of faith, to be someone who was a first-generation American, and to also be queer. Their compassion led me to gaze beyond the present and to aspire for a better future.
And guess what... I continued onwards. My passion for advocacy kept increasing and I partnered with non-profits and government departments to keep the youth momentum going. With the assistance of my school faculty, my local community mentors, and my friends, I not only graduated high school a semester early; I also did it with college credits and honors. My proudest achivement came in the form of being a recipient of my school district's 2010 Inspiring Students of the Year!
When I was asked to join NYAC and assist in developing new programs and ways to help disenfranchised youth, I was extremely anxious. After some pensive consideration, I realized I wanted to be associated with the envoy who started the youth movement and was restructuring itself to pave the way for the incoming batch of student leaders all over the map. I was hooked after having one-on-one conversations with incoming NYAC members, who dreamed of fostering a leading example for other social justice organizations - specifically those working with LGBTQ youth - in providing the necessary programs and services targeting youth of color, youth of religious/ethnic affiliation, youth in rural areas, and youth who survived traumatic ordeals.
My thoughts go to youth who I interacted with, from all across the nation with various upbringings.
I remember Zach, an emboldened leader from Kansas, who recently founded the first Gay-Straight Alliance club in his conservative area, as well as organized the first Day of Silence event in his community to increase awareness of youth suicides and the bullying epidemic. His action made me grateful I was still alive and how I would carry on the legacy of youth whose lives were cut so short.
I also reminisced of my friend Vivica, a gender non-conforming youth who used creative art projects to battle transphobia in her area and promoted a safer learning environment for all.
There was also Keil, from South Dakota, who tackled both brain cancer and LGBTQ activism at the age of sixteen! Nowadays, he's bouncing back, training professionally in basketball, hoping to play in the big leagues someday. He's a role model in his own right, who propels me wanting to do more.
Another youth who came to mind was Jacob, a heterosexual youth who used to say something homophobic after each sentence. By interacting with him and educating him about the constant struggles of youth who were both queer and a person of color, he was ready to change his language and become an openly proud ally in his community of San Bernardino, California.
I accepted the invitation to join NYAC based on a burning passion to advocate for pertinent issues the mainstream LGBTQ movement lost sight of. My goals are to introduce youth to financial management/stability services, to material that discusses sexual abuse and crisis medition, as well as how to collaborate with folks of different generation-oriented mindsets, and become acquainted with stratagems designing them to be the next agents of change.
The NYAC I know is like a mythical phoenix, ready to take flight after years of discovering where the youth movement should head next. Over the years, NYAC has accumulated connections with youth members, adult allies, and organizations supportive of LGBTQ youth and representing them in many ways possible. The newly established Board has grown from 4 to an impressive 16 members, 14 of who are people of color, including six youth of color who are under 25 years old, such as myself!!
I am extremely honored to continue mobilizing communities on behalf of NYAC, as well as brainstorm new methods that this organization and its associated partners can transcend into a new era of programs that are created by youth, directed by youth, and executed by youth.
As a result of this restructuring, NYAC is changing old methodologies and needs financial support to leap into the next decade. I'm proud to be a sustainer of NYAC's own work through a monthly donation, and most of all, I'm proud to be a part of the NYAC family, serving as a youth representative who will convey the wants and needs of the next generation of LGBTQ leaders and activists.
My biggest goals are to introduce youth to resources via various media outlets, create regional youth conferences preparing them to mobilize in their own areas, and in the coming year, design a national conference training to youth engage with representatives in the social, political, and economic realms.
Today, I invite you to join the NYAC family by becoming a patron of our work. I am diligently set on raising a minimum of $1500 before the end of the fiscal year (March 31st). No gift is too small, $100... $50... $10... $5... even $1 a day will help me reach my goal of raising the funds to create new programs for NYAC. I'm altruistically giving $100 this year, and I invite you to match my donation with a lump sum gift or monthly contribution of $10. I guarantee that any amount given will go a long way!
My little page is a sign of my transparency and will allow you to track how close I'm getting. All donations are secure and sent directly to the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, who will mail you a record of your donation. By becoming part of the NYAC family, you'll know everything that I am doing to ensure all funds go nowhere but to the youth; https://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5476/t/11981/my/donate.jsp?supporter_my_donate_page_KEY=2074
Please join me and help me reach my goal of raising $1,500 for NYAC. Also, please feel free to send my page on to anyone who might be interested in contributing! Thank you all!