Arizona Gives Day March 20, 2013: Alex and Paul’s Story

Alex is a young high school student who is homeless. He was placed in foster care as a young child and eventually adopted by a family. When he came out to his adoptive family he was kicked out of the house. Alex was abandoned twice and found himself on the streets simply because he is gay. Alex has been living in a canal behind his high school yet showing up every day for his high school classes.

Being gay is not a reason a teenager should be homeless, shamed or lonely.

Alex found one•n•ten and when he did he found love, support, food and toiletries. Most importantly he found a family – one who has no intention of abandoning him.

one•n•ten serves the young gay person who finds him/her self abandoned, lonely or ostracized. one•n•ten offers the young gay person a community which encourages self-acceptance within a common culture.

It is not uncommon for LGBT youths to be without mentors and friends. Schools can also be harsh environments especially when the young person lives in fear of others “finding out.” If adults in schools or religious institutions, fail to act empathetically towards LGBT youths, the young gay person can find him/herself without a trusted mentor or ally.

Like any other teenager, our LGBT teens are looking for someone who has a similar experience in the world. Teenagers, and in particular LGBT teenagers can experience crisis as they work toward healthy choices and lifestyles. When a LGBT teenager finds common ground with someone who is like them, or with someone who accepts him or her without judgment, it makes a difference. LGBT kids need to see the “rainbow” sticker, they need to hear the stories and struggles of other LGBT kids, they need mentors who can support them, they need straight allies who can tell them that all people are simply part of the human family, they need to see the HRC equal sticker on the backs of cars and computers. They need to see, hear and feel support.

Paul grew up in a loving family that was Roman Catholic. Paul knew as a young teenager that he was gay, but wasn’t sure how his parents would cope with his sexual orientation. He knew his parents loved him and would never abandon him, but was concerned about the conflict that could arise between his being gay and what he was hearing at church. Paul heard over and over that marriage was solely between a man and a woman, and that a “homosexual agenda” existed that was cause for great concern. How, he wondered, would his family accept him the way he is. One day at a church retreat Paul heard a kind doctor speak briefly about her work. She mentioned that some of her patients were gay and that she cared for them. It was the first time that Paul actually heard someone refer to another as “gay” with kindness and compassion. It gave him great reason to hope.

Paul could have benefitted from one•n•ten. He could have found a common community and support from counselors and peers. In addition to the support Paul longed for within his family, he needed a safe place with others who could offer him reassurance, strength, and a shared story.

one•n•ten exists to provide the shared story, the assurance that the young person is a perfect whole human being “as is,” and that life is full of promise.

one•n•ten’s mission is to reach out to more teens like Paul and Alex, and to embrace them with open, loving arms as they navigate the adolescent transitional waters toward a healthy, self-accepting, promising future.