Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th- James’ Story

James-smallMy name is James. I’m 17 years old. I identify as trans masculine, although sometimes I like to use the word queer.  I’m turning 18 in just a few weeks and I’m not sure where I’m going to go or what I’m going to do but I know I can’t live at home with my mother. Her house doesn’t feel like home to me.

My dad died when I was 15 years old. My mom has a hard time accepting me as I am. She also has nine other children to raise which makes me feel pretty much like I’ve raised myself. Sometimes she tells me to get out of the house but when I leave she calls me in as a runaway. I would like to start hormone treatment but she won’t give her consent.

I don’t really feel safe at my school, either. I don’t have many friends there and I can’t be out. There are too many transphoDonate-Now3bic and racist kids there, even those that identify as LGBTQ.

It’s hard being an LGBTQ teen.  How you are treated depends on where you go. Some people are welcoming and some are not. A lot of people don’t know the difference between being transgender or lesbian/gay. I get called a lesbian or dyke; I don’t like it. Your privileges are very different depending on who you are, your skin color, your economic class. It changes what resources you can get.

All of this has been hard on my mental health, so my doctor recommended I check out Eon. Eon is different. It’s a really great place to go where I get greeted liked family. I can go there for help with hygiene, food, support.  They are helping me apply for Section 8 housing through SAAF, so I will have a place to live when I turn 18, which is only a few weeks away. SAAF is so cool. I don’t want to be homeless and I’m so glad I can get help through SAAF. Since I started coming to Eon my mental health has really improved.  I’ve made good friends and good connections to both the kids and the staff.

Eon has definitely played a role in my plans for the future.  I want to go to art school and also business school.  I participate in the Mapping Q program where I’m learning a lot about art.  My artwork is even going to be in a show.

Fourth Avenue is the perfect place for Eon and a new youth center. It’s much more convenient for me and will attract a lot more youth. We need a safe space only for LGBTQ youth where we can find understanding and safety. 

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 be a lifeline for youth like James by making your gift today. Plus, all gifts will be matched, dollar-for-dollar. Give today.

News and Events

  • Stonewall Foundation to fund Endowment for SAAF’s Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th, April 14, 2017

    The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) has been awarded funding from the locally-based Stonewall Foundation to support the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th- A SAAF Place for Youth. This annual funding is in perpetuity and will help fund renovations at the Center in the initial year of funding while establishing and growing the Stonewall Foundation […]

    Learn More
  • SAAF Volunteer Appreciation Event is April 27, April 5, 2017

    SAAF will once again shine the spotlight on our wonderful volunteers at our annual Volunteer Appreciation event. This year’s event will take place during National Volunteer Week, on Thursday April 27, 2017; from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Y. Dinner will be catered by Carte Blanche catering, served by SAAF employees followed by […]

    Learn More
  • AZ Gives Day is Tuesday April 4, March 24, 2017

    The 5th annual Arizona Gives Day is Tuesday April 4 and we hope that you will consider giving to SAAF on that day. We have arranged match gifts totaling $3,000 but we need your help to make sure that we reach each match (see below for a listing of match donors). Plus, if SAAF is […]

    Learn More
  • Why a Will workshop is March 24, March 11, 2017

    Did you know…Nearly half of all adult Americans do not currently have a will? If you do not have a will at the time of death, the State will make determinations about how your estate is divided up. In Arizona, if you are part of an unmarried, same-sex couple, your surviving partner will receive nothing […]

    Learn More
  • SAAF Stands with Transgender Students & Calls on Trump Administration to Protect All Students, February 23, 2017

    Yesterday, the Trump Administration reversed a sound policy protecting the rights of transgender students. The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) calls on President Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ensure all students have access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity and gender expression. The change to government […]

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