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May 13, 2019

The power of ONE

a mentoring activity
a mentoring activity

DJ was 11 when he was first referred to us.  He had just come out as gay, maybe trans (mostly he liked wearing beautiful clothes).  His dad rejected him totally (even said if he was 'queer' he would kill him.) DJ was angry, agressive with his mom and younger siblings, flunking most subjects in school. His mom insisted he not tell his younger siblings he was 'like that'.

Eight years later? DJ graduated from high school, has a job and is thinking about taking some college course.  He is a resource and a role model for his younger siblings and his mom now provides respite for cousins and other kin who are LGBTQ+ and not accepted by their families.

What happened?  Was it a miracle?  No.  It was the power of ONE.  An individual just like YOU. Actually two.  A lesbian couple became DJ's mentors when he was 11. He is 18 now and they are still his mentors, only now they mentor the whole family.  They don't have extra special powers.  They didn't have any background in mentoring or therapy or anything like that.  They just cared.  They walked a road alongside him and his family - not as saviors but as humans who simply cared.  And they were as transformed by the experience as their mentee.  Their journey together changes ALL of their lives for the better.

That is the power of ONE.  True Colors has kids all over Connecticut who need the power of ONE. one person (or a couple) who will meet a kid where they are with care, humor, patience and consistancy. 

We need mentors in Litchfield, Shelton, Norwich, New Haven, Middletown - and probably YOUR town. 

Money matters, don't get me wrong. Donations allow us to do what we do every day.  But you matter too.  Might you have a little room in your schedule for a kid who needs you?

All mentors start with a once a month commitment to pick up a kid and attend an event that we organize.  Its about 3-4 hours a month.  Some folks go on to -one-on-one mentoring like the couple described above; Others remain as group mentors.  Both groups make a profound difference for themselves and for the kid they connect with.

The power of ONE.  Will it be you?   

another mentoring activity
another mentoring activity
and yet another mentoring activity
and yet another mentoring activity

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Apr 9, 2019

It really was magical.

the hour before the event began
the hour before the event began

The first quarter of each year is really dedicated to final preparations for our annual conference – an event that is made possible in part because of the generosity of our donors and supporters. Your generosity helps us not only keep costs down, but helps us provide more than $13,000 in scholarships to youth who would otherwise not be able to attend.

True Colors XXVI: This is ME! was held on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23, 2019 at UCONN in Storrs. Three thousand, nine hundred and seventy-nine people participated over the two day event. They represented 122 high schools,11 middle schools, 14 colleges, and 10 different states. Here’s what some teachers had to say about their students’ experience:

“It was wonderful seeing all the LGBTQ+ youth being in a safe place just being themselves! I attended the very first True Colors conference so many years ago as a Social Work student and was a great experience bringing my 17 year old son and experiencing the conference together. What a great day!”

“Some colleagues and I took members of our GSA, and the first day one of them turned to us and said ‘I've never been around so many gay people before,’ clearly feeling for the first time what it was like to be the majority. The same student attended the bisexual workshop by Robyn and came out of it saying she never knew other people thought like her. Seeing the kids’ reactions was the most memorable experience for me.”

“One of my students was so inspired by her time at the conference that she stepped up to speak during the closing Youth SpeakOut and that is something we never would have expected from her.”

It is hard to describe the feeling of being in a room with that many excited, enthusiastic and joyful youth and adults. It is electrifying, even transformative. We hear so much about LGBTQ+ youth risk factors, something I sometimes call ‘the parade of horribles:   Suicidality, substance abuse, homelessness, discrimination. The conference is not about that – it is about celebrating LGBTQ+ identities, creativity, joy, and the gifts that we uniquely bring to the world. It is about youth and adults of all orientations and genders coming together to create a world in which everyone belongs.

in the vendor space
in the vendor space
the annual conference rock
the annual conference rock

Links:

Feb 13, 2019

Your support impacted over 12,000 lives last year!

Because of the generosity of people like you, in 2018, True Colors served 12,214 people across CT.

  • 1,204 participated in our youth leadership programming;
  • 3,624 in our annual conference;
  • 1,053 sought information and referrals;
  • 643 people were served in our mentoring program and
  • We provided cultural competency training to 5,690 participants.


In addition, we participated in 10 health and school fairs, represented the interests of LGBTQ+ youth and families in numerous radio, newspaper and television interviews and participated in the protection of LGBTQ+ youth from the harmful effects of conversion therapy in helping to pass protective legislation.

Some of our work is supported by fees, some by contracts. But much of the programming that directly impacts LGBTQ+ youth is supported through the donations of individuals just like you, who want their dollars to make a difference for the next generation. 

Here just one of the stories that you made possible.  

Our Youth Activities Coordinator visits 30 - 40 school Gender/Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meetings each school year.  They go to the meetings to help GSA's get started, to help them grow, and to facilitate conversations about making their schools safe for students of all orientations and gender. At a recent Gender/Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meeting, a discussion arose about all the emerging identities.  Our coordinator said, "about 4 % of youth in recent survey identitifed as asexual - that is either not having sexual or romantic feelings toward other people, or only having those feelings emerge after a deep emotional connection." After the meeting,  young person came up and said, "Were you saying that asexuality is normal?"  Mel (our coordinator said),"Yeah, of course. There are lots of different ways that people feel or identify and they are all normal." The youth was visibly relieved and said, "I thought I was the only one. I have been feeling like I was too weird to even to fit in with the GSA. Mel said, "All humans are weird.  That is what makes us so fun."  And the youth said, "yeah."

Yeah.  That about sums it up. A kid who didn't, now feels like he fits in and belongs.  Your donations helped create over 12,000 stories like that last year. You will never know how grateful we are for you. 

Links:

 
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