I am one of the 2016 True Fellows with the True Colors Fund. The True Colors Fund works to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, creating a world in which young people can be their true selves.
Last year I spoke on the first youth panel at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference. It was the first time I’d been ask to speak about my thoughts and feelings about homelessness instead on my personal experiences. It was very empowering, I felt like I wasn’t just a tokenized homeless queer transgender kid. I felt like I was being respected as a professional but also as a young person whose experiences makes them an expert. After this I knew I wanted to get more involved with the True Colors Fund.
This year I am so honored to be one of the fellows. My focus in on public policy, one of my many passions. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much from the other fellows and the True Colors Fund staff during our retreat. The staff led us in discussions about topics like personal branding, self-care, social media marketing, and public speaking.
One of the things that really hit home with me was owning my authority when speaking, I’m often very shy or anxious when I do public speaking. Hearing the Jama Shelton talk about owning our authority was like a confidence boost. It validated that I know what I am talking about and reminded me to own that.
I was also able to build a community with the other Fellows. They are from all over the United States. It was empowering to be able to see all the amazing work these other youth are doing in their communities from using TV as a form of activism in rural Minnesota to working as a community organizer in New York City.
At the closing of the retreat Twiggy Pucci Garçon led us in an activity where sat in a circle and we passed a ball of yarn across to someone who impacted us over the four days. We told them what impact they had on us and passed it to a person who didn’t have any yarn. By the end we had a web that showed was a visual of the connections we built. Someone said if one of the connections broke it would all start to fall apart so it was up to all of us to keep it together. I cannot wait to see them again at the 40 to None Summit in October where we will be talking about all the work we did during our fellowships!