I left Jamaica because of rejection and fear of facing further violence for being gay. Except for some support from my grandmother and brother, my family rejected me, and this resulted in me becoming homeless. I was forced to make family out of gay friends. We made the most of it, even though we were easy targets. I was attacked, and escaped attempts for my life, so I saw the need to leave for my safety. Eventually, I saved enough to move to New York, United States, where some distant relatives live. I entered youth shelters when I arrived and from a crisis shelter, I was referred to Diaspora Community Services for their Transitional Independent Living program in March of 2016. This program helped me find a sense of safety and stability. While living there, I saved money, I worked with a case manager to help me plan and set goals and I was challenged to explore my past in therapy. The staff care about my well being and they worked hard with me to teach me what it takes to live on my own. I recently transitioned out of the TIL on July 2017, into a housing program for LGBT youth, where I can live until I am 25 years old. I feel stable and safe. I couldn't have done all of this without their support.
STAR was a very influential program that I benefited from, I got to meet some amazing people from here.
My perspective on life became broad, I no longer think from a limited perspective...
I put myself in other people's shoes.
I have allowed myself to open-up to others and not show them the surface of my life. This all started when I attended the Historical Black College Tour in February 2015. I met teens from other schools throughout Brooklyn and had the opportunity to interact and gain knowledge of their goals and aspirations.
This program also gave me a glimpse of independence. I am very much appreciative of all the services provided at the organization and for the staff members mentoring."
Lisa, 16 - Safe Teens Acting Responsibly (STAR) peer.
"I would like to take this time to thank everyone involved in the caring of my well being. To the people who take the time to call me and remind me of my appointments and in making sure that I am always in good spirits, doing and feeling well. They are always there to help answer questions I might have and an avenue of resources to my needs, always ready with a kind word and a smile assuring me that everything is going to be alright. The MBAP program has helped me to believe that there are people equipped and able to make differences when we need guidance. Thank you all for a great job well done and most of all for caring for your clients (me). " D.Rodriguez