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.

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