Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th- Emma’s Story

Emma-smallI jumped in front of a car today. That’s what I told my mom one day when I had tried to kill myself. Luckily I didn’t get hit, but I didn’t trust myself. My mom took me to the hospital and I spent two weeks there.

I always knew I liked girls and this was a source of tension with my dad.   One time I went to live with my dad for a little bit. He’s bipolar and unmedicated because his family doesn’t believe in mental health.  They think it’s silly.  One day my dad got mad at me and made me leave his house at 6:00am. He took me back to my mom’s and said I wasn’t a respected member of the family.

He called me a whore, a slut and a bitch. I was ten years old. That’s what led to the car incident. My dad accused me of just wanting attention. How can you do this to us?

Things went okay for a while. Then, in seventh grade, it happened again.  I’ve been bullied my entire life, and people at school were telling me to drink bleach.  They would put matches in my locker and tell me to burn in hell. So I overdosed on a bunch of pills I had been saving and was back in the hospital.

That’s when I found Eon. The first day was super awkward. I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I was only 13 years old, the youngest in the group. But people were really friendly and knowing others who have gone through what I’ve been through was super helpful.

I kept going. I learned really fast.  I go to therapy now, but then I didn’t have a therapist, so I talked to Sarah on the Eon staff. She was really cool and really open. She was different, too, and she really got it.Donate-Now3

Eon is so beneficial.  They do free testing. They have condoms. We talk about sex. Suicide. There’s a really great project called Mapping Q where we do art.  We have a video going into the Museum of Contemporary Art.  I have a painting going into the Tucson Museum of Art, and another going into the UA Museum of Art.

It would be so great if Eon could have our own space! We’re in a closet right now and the staff is cramped. This space would bring Eon back to life. It would be so valuable.

The Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th- A SAAF Place for Youth will open in summer 2017 and will provide a safe and affirming gathering place for LGBTQ youth and their allies. SAAF has launched a $1.8 million campaign to raise funds for the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th and you can be a lifeline for youth like Emma by making your gift today. Plus, all gifts will be matched, dollar-for-dollar. Give today.

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The mission of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation is to cultivate a healthy and stigma-free society through transformative action.