Sunday, June 02, 2013

LGBT Youth Night

I had been volunteering at an LGBT youth night program called "The Church" for over a year, and I was asked to give a write-up on one of the kids in the program. This is not a literary piece, but I wanted to give you guys an idea of what I do on many Saturday nights.

I first met A over a year ago, around January 2012. He made a habit out of laughing overtly loud at his own jokes, which made his surrounding friends carry at least a snicker, whether or not his joke deserved the honor. He was an easily approachable person, which gave me the opportunity to speak with him for at least a few minutes every week to see what was on his mind and make sure he was all right.

At the time, he was worried about a lot of things. He was turning 21 in a month, which meant that he would soon age out of his housing program. He had initially planned to move in with his boyfriend, but they had just broken up. And on top of that, he was still looking for a job.

I spoke with him every week that I saw him and often found myself just trying to say things to cheer him up, because after the moments of laughing out loud, it was clear that he had a lot going on in his mind, and in place of sharing, he often had a vague response to my questions.

“Oh, you know. I have a lot of stuff going on. Every week’s the same. Gotta get my life together. Not sure what to do.”

I didn’t see him the whole summer and when I saw him again last October, I learned that he couldn’t make the Saturday dinners during the summer, because he had a job that required him to work on Saturdays.  

He seemed pretty focused on what he needed to do to secure his future, and spent the next few weeks avidly studying for the GED. He brought in math flash cards that he borrowed from the LGBT center. I quizzed him by taking him through the whole deck, and he got every question right, but I knew the GED would require more than what was offered on the cards. Inspired by his drive, I bought him a GED test prep book, and he was very grateful.

Though a few months later, it seemed like something was wrong once again. I asked him how his studying was going. He forced a smile to be polite and in a long-winded explanation, basically told me that he wasn’t in a stable enough environment to focus on something like the GED exam.

I hadn’t seen him again until February of this year, and things seemed to be back to stable. He was back to studying for the exam, he was using the book I gave him, and he had registered to take the test in September.  

It’s really hard for me to accept sometimes that I can’t control A’s environment outside of The Church, but when he was in a place where he could take advantage of useful resources, I’m happy that The Church allowed me the opportunity to provide that for him.