Sep 7, 2020

Kicking off the virtual school year!

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Patrick and I'm honored to be stepping into the role of Executive Director for True Colors, Inc. I am so honored to be leading this incredible organization and so excited to be a part the True Colors community. Our young folks are facing a whole new year and the reality of the pandemic seems to be here to stay for the forseeable future -- and True Colors is working to meet that moment. 

LGBTQ+ youth are living with specific and unique needs when it comes to this pandemic and their time at home can be filkled with anxiety, being forced back into the closet, and having their identities misunderstoof or even erased by their families or caregivers. We know that LGBTQ+ youth are a high-risk population for family rejection and violence, forms of self-harm, suicidal ideation, substance abuse and homelessness.

We also know the difference that one supportive adult can make in the life of a young person. That's why we're so committed to providing safe a suportive spaces for LGBTQ+ youth over the internet while we're unable to gather in person. 

 We know that LGBTQ+ youth are a high-risk population for family rejection and violence, cutting and other forms of self-harm, suicide, substance abuse and homelessness. We also know that abuse reports to DCF have gone down dramatically -- not because there are fewer incidents, but because there are fewer 'eyes' on these vulnerable children and youth.

 Because of the generosity and support of donors like you, we are: 

  • Offering weekly youth game nights where young folks can gather together on Zoom and relax with one another for a fun activity led by a member of our youth team

  • A weekly virtual social support and discussion group with a peer group that's facilitated by a partnership between True Colors staff and the YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis Services staff
  • Friday night Activties, including Active night to keep youth moving and active, movie nights, drag night, and craft night, where we're planning on mailing craft supplies to participants to have a hands on activity while they're getting together virtually. 

Over the last four and half months we also hosted over thirty-eight evening activities for young people, held over twenty-four roundtable spaces for professionals working with young LGBTQ+ folks to gather and share experiences, and had over three thousand views of our Mini-Con virtual conference sessions!

We are adapting to meet this moment but that adapting takes resources. Technology, time and staffing resources, advertising dollars to reach young folks who might feel isolated and not know about our weekly youth programming, and more. That's why we’re so grateful for our supporters, folks who’ve been impacted by true colors in the past, and folks who wish they had an organization like True Colors when they were coming out or growing up, who are making all of this possible! 

Thank you for your continued support -- you're our heroes and you make this work possible. I'm so excited about working together to make sure that we can meet the needs of LGBTQ+ youth and the people entrusted to care for them! 




Links:

May 12, 2020

LGBTQ+ Youth and the Pandemic

MiniCon Information
MiniCon Information

Wow. Life as we knew it is so different now. So different.

LGBTQ+ youth are enduring unique stressors during the pandemic and their confinement at home. Here are a few of the many stories and situations we have been contacted about since the pandemic began: 

       *   He is 17, just came out as gay at school. His 'very religious mom' is certain she can "pray away the gay". She monitors his assignments, text messages, emails and all social media interactions. His teacher sees him getting more and more withdrawn but doesn't know how to help

     *       He is 14, out at school as a boy, but his family only knows and accepts him as a girl. At school, he was able to use his chosen name and pronoun; his grades were good and he seemed involved and connected. He hasn't signed on to his classes lately or completed assignments. He told his teacher, he can't stand having to use the wrong name

     *       She is the GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) Advisor at her school. Many of the middle school students in the group have not been safely able to come out at home. The GSA was a safe haven for them. But now she has no way to confidentially reach her students to let them know about the opportunity to meet remotely

 We know that LGBTQ+ youth are a high-risk population for family rejection and violence, cutting and other forms of self-harm, suicide, substance abuse and homelessness. We also know that abuse reports to DCF have gone down dramatically -- not because there are fewer incidents, but because there are fewer 'eyes' on these vulnerable children and youth.

 

At True Colors, we are doing what we can to help: Because of the generosity and loyalty of donors like you, we are: 

  • Offering twice weekly remote youth groups;

  • Providing twice weekly adult provider support and networking;

  • Moving our annual conference - a bright spot for many, many youth - into a six week MiniCon Series (debuting on May 22 at 2:00). The MiniCon Series is free and open to the public – our contribution to keeping LGBTQ+ youth – and those who support them -- engaged and connected.

 Interested in the MiniCon Series? Tune in every Friday between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM EST on True Colors YouTube Channel. Or get additional information and updates via our Facebook Event - both links are below.  

Thank you so much for all of your support.  We are able to do what we do, even in these strange new times, because of folks like you.  You are our heroes!!

Links:

Jan 13, 2020

Thanks to folks like you, Rainbow Friday was a hit

Even our turkeys have rainbows!
Even our turkeys have rainbows!

November/December is quite a month for celebrations. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Omisoka, Winter Solstice, Las Posados, Diwali, New Year just to name a few.

Songs, storefronts, greetings are all tied to family and the holidays. Currier and Ives. Unless. Unless you happen to be a kid in the ‘system’. Try as they might, group homes aren’t really homes, residential staff aren’t really family and loneliness can seem overwhelming.

There is a long-held tradition within the LGBTQ+ community. It grew out of necessity and became an integral part of the culture – the idea of chosen family. Too often, still, LGBTQ+ youth and young adults are rejected by their families of origin, pushed out into a world to fend for themselves. Luckily, there are LGBTQ+ elders who step up to the parental plate and become crucial members of a beloved community, a chosen family. (think, POSE)

Back in the day, youth often lived with their chosen family - parents, siblings, extended family members. Living together is less true today, but the concept of chosen family both exists and thrives.

True Colors brought the tradition to life on Rainbow Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) with a chosen family feast, dozens of gifts and give aways, movies, games and conversation. People came from our mentoring program, our youth programs, and the community surrounding our offices. It was a wonderful experience for all involved. One youth said, “It felt like family today. I am so glad I had somewhere to be that wasn’t the group home.”

These are the kind of activities and programs that donors like you, make possible. It isn’t a program so much as it is a family gathering – a chance for a community to come together to love, laugh, learn and connect. It’s chosen family. And we are so glad to chose you. Thanks for choosing us too.

Wishing you and your family, chosen and bio, a Happy, Healthy, Joyous New Year.

One small chosen family group
One small chosen family group
our room full of gifts and giveaways
our room full of gifts and giveaways
just before a rowdy game of heads-up
just before a rowdy game of heads-up
 
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