“I started volunteering with Youth First about four years ago when I was early in the process of coming out. It took me almost 30 years to come to terms with my queerness because I grew up in a very conservative area where there wasn’t any kind of queer representation. I spent years hating myself for not being straight. That healing process is long and ongoing. So, when I finally realized it was time to embrace my queerness, I knew I wanted to help LGBTQ youth avoid the shame and self-hate I spent so many years fighting.
“Youth First is one of the only LGBTQ-focused programs in North Texas that addresses the challenges LGBTQ teens face at home, school and in the community. A program of Resource Center, it serves LGBTQ and allied youth, ages 12-18 and equips them with the tools and resources they need to live an authentic life through year-round, free programming that decreases high-risk behaviors, reduces social isolation, and increases self-esteem.
“I wanted to be a visibly queer adult who could love and affirm LGBTQ teens in the Youth first program and encourage them to love themselves. What surprised me was how healing it was to spend time with queer and trans youth at Youth First–to watch them affirming and supporting each other, adjusting to name and pronoun changes on a regular basis with no questions asked. There was none of the in-fighting between identities that I was already familiar with in the larger LGBTQ community. It sometimes feels selfish spending time with our Youth First members because I feel like I get so much out of it. Loving on them is almost as good as therapy.
“I’m excited to be involved with the upcoming Youth First’s Back-To-School event because it’s been so long since we put on any kind of in-person production. We have a lot of very talented, very creative youth in the program, and it’s important to celebrate that. This is also a big fundraising opportunity for Youth First. The funds from this event will help us with programming throughout the year–which we’re extra excited about now that we’re back in person! I, for one, am very much ready for dances and lock-ins because it’s important to create safe spaces for LGTBQ youth to have normal teenage experiences. Missing events like Queer Prom the last two years was rough. But to make that happen, we need the community to show up and support us at this Back-To-School event. It’s scheduled for Thursday, August 19, at 6 p.m. and will be a free, virtual showcase featuring the talented youth from Youth First. More information can be found at myresourcecenter.org/backtoschool.”
* Graphic and photo provided by Resource Center