In order to end lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth homelessness, LGBTQ youth must be involved in the process. Our True Fellowship program gives young people the opportunity to undertake a six-month project that contributes to our shared mission to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Each True Fellow is an LGBTQ-identified young person and has had experiences with homelessness and/or housing instability.
2016 True Fellow Christian Carmen Olivia Jane worked with the True Colors Fund to help relaunch Give A Damn – a project that brings our mission to the masses via storytelling and pop culture. When she’s not blogging, Christian geeks out over fashion and all things Beyoncé. In her own words, here’s what Christian accomplished over the past six months:
My True Fellowship project was to help revamp the Give A Damn website. A huge part of my work with Give A Damn is to create content and edit content for www.wegiveadamn.org, and I’ve been able to call on my experience with writing on my own website www.thecisjungle.com.
This work is important because a huge part of moving forward and prospering as an LGBT community is educating and creating the right allies who will help us move forward with change. I have learned to juggle an ambitious workload (one that I mostly put on myself) and strive to keep a commitment, not only to myself but one to the True Colors Fund, my fellow Fellows, and the LGBT community.
My greatest accomplishment during this Fellowship has been connecting with fashion designer Rachel Roy, who has been such an inspiration to me. Fashion may seem frivolous or irrelevant to our work, but it is a huge part of what gives me confidence and what validates LGBT and especially transgender people. As a black trans woman, what I wear says so much about who I am, what inspires me, and where I want to be. My ultimate goal is to interview her about fashion and the queer community and the connection between the two.
Throughout these past six months, I learned the importance and joy of working in a team. Admittedly so, I absolutely loathe working in teams, but the True Fellows and the staff at the True Colors Fund have been amazing partners through this process. The first time I received suggestions about my writing I was taken aback, but I have pushed myself to be open and receptive because I realized that we are all working on this together. This is not my work, but the work we are doing collectively for the community. It has been an absolutely rewarding and fulfilling process.
Looking back on the Fellowship, I definitely have learned (and continue to stumble through and learn) many of the work engines we’ve used, such as Wrike and Mailchimp, as well as public speaking skills and team-work. Perhaps the biggest take-away from this fellowship is honoring my commitments and pushing myself beyond comfort zones to make things come into fruition.
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