Seven years ago, I found The Attic Youth Center in a row home nestled snuggly between a restaurant and apartment building in downtown Philadelphia. As a 16-year-old black gay teenager about to enter a world he’d never experienced before, you can imagine the trepidation and reluctance I felt as I walked up the ramp to the LGBTQ youth center. Looking back now, opening that door for the first time held literal and figurative significance to the events of my life yet to follow.
During my time as a youth at The Attic, I was able to become a two-term president of The Attic’s Youth Planning Committee and serve as youth liaison on the board of directors. I was appointed to represent The Attic as a part of The Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition. In 2012, I joined the Soulforce Equality Ride, and later went on to become a 2015 Point Foundation Scholar to finish my undergraduate degree and in the future move on to graduate studies. Recently, I interned with the Elton John Aids Foundation. Without The Attic I don’t know if I’d have ever achieved these things, and I am grateful to say I’ll never have to.
When I stepped through the doors of The Attic, I wasn’t sure what I would find. I was looking for a place where I could be myself, peers who would affirm my identity, and role models to show me that my life could mean something. I found all of that and more. Thanks to The Attic Youth Center, I was given the resources and support to grow like a rose from the concrete into a leader within my community. My life has been enriched by the opportunities made available to me as an active member of the Attic’s community, and it is my wish that other LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia (and surrounding areas) looking for community, looking for guidance, looking for a chance to reach their greatest potentials and beyond like I was 7 years ago, find their way to The Attic Youth Center.