I entered foster care at age 12. I was in an abusive home and would act out so that I could get in trouble and hopefully get recognized so that I could get help. Life in foster care as an LGBTQ youth was far from easy.
When I went into my first group home I was young and scared so I tried my best to hide who I was. My first foster home was not really supportive of me being LGBTQ, however, they were not very supportive of me in any way. While in this home I suffered from several forms of abuse. When I left this foster home I was placed into a different organization. To this day I can still not figure out why the department thought that it was a good idea to put an LGBTQ youth in a Christian organization that is openly against LGBTQ. While with this organization I felt like I was a prisoner and could not openly be who I was. As if the organization being against LGBTQ youth was not enough they also decided appropriate to place me in a county where there was maybe 1 other LGBTQ person and that person was constantly being shunned for who he loved. This part of my foster care journey was definitely a challenge however I am very thankful for it because it showed me that I have the ability to stand up for myself. While in this organization, I had 2 supportive adults that were always there for me.
Once I left this organization I was sent to another congregate care setting. Staff at this facility was much more accepting of who I was and even encouraged me to be myself. This was definitely a weird feeling for me, because I had been shunned for so many years now that I didn’t know what it was like to be myself. It was a new experience. I no longer had to hide who I was in order to feel safe.
I know of several LGBTQ youth in my area that were placed with the anti-LGBTQ organization and felt like we took many steps back. This is totally unacceptable!
Not all my foster homes were supportive but I stood my ground. I want all foster youth to be able to be open about their LGBTQ identity because foster care is hard enough without having to hide our identity. Now, when I speak to LGBTQ foster youth I always make sure I tell them to stand up for what they believe in and do not let anyone condemn them for who they are. Do not be afraid to speak up if you have someone on your case that you feel is mistreating you.
If I could spread one message to anyone who sees this it would be: do not be afraid to open your eyes and expand your horizons and open up your heart to an LGBTQ foster youth because you never know if you might say the words that will save their life.