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Youth Ambassador Council

The Youth Ambassador Council (YAC) is a group of ten young people, ages 16-24*, who serve as a liaison between youth nationwide and The Trevor Project. The young people selected for the YAC have demonstrated knowledge and/or leadership in the areas of suicide prevention, LGBTQ equality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The YAC provides feedback to The Trevor Project and works on Trevor-led campaigns in an effort to increase Trevor visibility and best serve the LGBTQ youth population, build on their current leadership skills, and gain experience with a national non-profit organization.

*Youth under 18 will need guardian permission and all youth will need to sign a consent to be photographed.

MISSION

The mission of the Youth Ambassador Council (YAC) is to maximize The Trevor Project’s lifesaving work by integrating the perspectives of representative young people into services, programs, and messaging; spreading awareness as organizational spokespeople; and furthering outreach in new geographical areas as regional coordinators.

MAIN ROLES

  • Writing at least one guest entry on our national blog, TrevorNews
  • Serving as a “guest editor” for at least one week on our Tumblr & SnapChat pages
  • Engaging the TrevorSpace community through campaigns, forum posts, and other areas
  • Providing input and recommendations on our programs, services, and messaging
  • Opportunity after training to speak publicly during outreach events, to members of the media,  and other outlets as an official youth representative
  • Advocating for and spreading awareness about Trevor in your local community

STRUCTURE

YAC members serve 1-year terms and elect 2 co-leaders who work directly with The Trevor Project’s staff to guide the council. Every 2 months, there is a group video conference meeting for the YAC and Trevor to discuss ideas, feedback, and updates.

MEET OUR 2017/2018 YOUTH AMBASSADOR COUNCIL MEMBERS:

Alexander, 17

My name is Alexander, I’m 17 years old, and I’m super excited to be on the Youth Ambassador Council. It is my hope that I can contribute to Trevor in my own unique way and style. I currently run the YouTube channel “AreTheyGay” that sometimes speaks about silly LGBTQ+ topics, or other serious topics in the community, including history and media representation. Saving LGBTQ+ lives is not a simple task, but being outspoken about the issues that affect the community is one of the ways I’ve been able to contribute. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to do amazing work with the Trevor Project.

 

Ben, 21

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council because I want to be a positive role model for other LGBTQ youth who feel lost or unsure of their place in the world. I want to embody the kind of presence that I once needed in my own life.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

Currently, I have two favorite LGBTQ icons – Laura Jane Grace (the lead singer of the band Against Me!) and Peppermint (of recent RuPaul’s Drag Race success). Both of these incredibly talented women stand out as transgender people who have used their public platforms to educate and to inspire change. Anyone who demonstrates as much self-awareness, resilience, and honesty as these women have demonstrated in the face of public scrutiny is an icon in my eyes.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I see myself continuing down a path of advocacy for LGBTQ community members. Ideally, by this point in my life, I would either like to be working with an organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights or utilizing the medium of documentary filmmaking as a vehicle through which to share LGBTQ stories with a broad audience.

 

Bennett, 18

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I wanted to be a part of the Youth Ambassador Council because of my deep respect and admiration for the work the Trevor Project does. I myself have benefitted from many of the crisis networks offered by the Trevor Project and have made very close friends on the Trevor Projects social network, TrevorSpace. Also, having just graduated from high school, I am extremely excited to have been given the opportunity to practice my activism on a much larger scale than previously possible.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

There are so many noteworthy LGBTQ trailblazers that it is extremely difficult to pick just one. People like Tammy Baldwin, Marsha P. Johnson, James Baldwin and so many more were all instrumental in creating an environment that allows me to live my authentic life.  If I were to pick a favorite; however, I would have to choose Larry Kramer. The 1980’s AIDS crisis was devastating for the queer community and is something that is often overlooked and forgotten by the younger queer population. It is important to remember our history and the heroes that helped write it, both literally and figuratively.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to be continuing my work in activism whether it be in the non-profit or government sector. I want to be able to enact tangible and widespread change in both the LGBTQ community and the country as a whole. Following college and law school, I would like to start working for a civil rights law firm with a specialization in LGBTQ rights.

 

Brennan, 20

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I’ve wanted to work with The Trevor Project ever since I started high school. When I was fifteen, I cofounded a statewide group for LGBTQ youth in North Carolina, QueerNC. Over the years, I found that the resources available to LGBTQ youth in crisis in my state are far from adequate. I want to provide more support to queer young people in the South and raise awareness for LGBTQ health deficits on a national scale. In a year when LGBTQ youth are feeling particularly vulnerable, it’s essential to continue working on suicide prevention.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

Laverne Cox is probably my top inspiration. In addition to doing amazing work, I think that she does a great job of staying connected to and supporting less privileged trans folks as well as holding everyone else accountable to do better. Her commitment to intersectional justice is so valuable, and she’s made a huge impact on national dialogue on the transgender community.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Wow, there are a lot of places that I would like to be in ten years. I could be working as a NOLS instructor in New Zealand, doing policy analysis for the National Transgender Law Center, or focusing on youth leadership efforts in North Carolina. I’m passionate about storytelling and building community in the South, so wherever I am, I hope to continue to give back to young people in my state.

 

Charlie, 18

Why did you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council?

I have lost friends to suicide. I myself have struggled with suicidal thoughts and actions. Being queer and not knowing that there was nothing wrong with it had a lot to do with those feelings. To be able to contribute to an organization that has not only helped me, but so many others like me, as well as one that is bringing attention to the heavy reality of suicide, is something beyond fulfilling.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

Singer and songwriter Juan Gabriel. He was unapologetically flamboyant and Mexican. He had so much pride in his culture and never gave in to the macho-man ideals of traditional Mexican society. He was looked down upon by so many people during his lifetime because of the way that he chose to express himself. But, he was passionate about the music that he made and all the fans that adored him. He never stopped performing. He made me comfortable with myself and inspired me to exist as loudly as possible. For that, he will never stop being my hero.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I aspire to be a successful openly queer Latinx actor and a prominent activist in my communities. I want to represent all of the chubby queer brown kids that were always made to feel inadequate, and have them see that they, like me, are valid. I pray that in 10 years, I will have achieved this dream and be in a position where I can still consider myself the happiest person alive.

 

Cooper, 22

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I want to be part of The Trevor Project’s YAC because when I was in high school talking to someone at The Trevor Project saved my life. The compassion and empathy that the person on the phone had for me as a person was critical in my decision to live, and because of that, I want to give back to the organization that literally saved my life.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

My favorite LGBTQ+ icon is José Sarria because he was the first openly gay person to run for public office in the United States….in 1961! Plus, when I lived in San Francisco and interned at The GLBT Historical Society I was given the privilege of archiving his gowns which was awe- inspiring.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Honestly, I have a strong dislike for these types of questions. I am a stoic, so I try and just go with the flow of life. However, if I am forced to answer this question, I hope that in ten years I am better able to see success as something that is internal and not external.

 

Donald, 24

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I want to be a member of Trevor’s YAC in order to offer myself to be of service to fellow youth in my community. Growing up, I had a tough time finding a sense of pride in all I could offer the world. I disconnected myself from LGBTQ+ icons in the media because they had been through it all—I hadn’t even crossed the threshold of self-admittance, let alone self- acceptance.  Now, Trevor provides a space for me to share my story and thus extend my hand to anyone who may need support. I will bring an open heart and ferocious compassion to all of my work on behalf of the organization.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

My favorite LGBTQ+ icon is RuPaul Charles, hands down. RuPaul initiated a revolutionary understanding of self-discovery, self-confidence, and self-acceptance in my life and presented a glowing example of how the alchemy of self-love serves the evolution of humanity. Ru connected me to resources that kindled a metaphysical re-wiring of my own understanding of life, love, and creation! Adventuring around DragCon last weekend, I was humbled and overwhelmingly grateful for the gravity RuPaul unleashed by showing up to life with an unabashed sense of “This Is Who I Truly Am.”  We are only just beginning to witness his legacy.  Thank you, Mama Ru.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I see myself as a working actor—my heart and mind serve projects across the spectrum of performance. A writer—content pouring forth from my soul. An activist—advocating for human rights and global health. A coach—helping others to expand their sense of creativity; to heal their self-destructive habits that deflect peace. I see myself tilling this same soil on which I now stand, yet surrounded by a garden bursting forth with life.

 

Drew, 16

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I want to be part of the Youth Ambassador Council because I want to help LGBTQ youth live happy and healthy lives. It’s a terrible feeling knowing that suicide is a major cause of death for queer kids in this country, and being part of the YAC means I can make a difference. I hope to develop more skills and knowledge for suicide prevention and raise my voice to help others keep fighting.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

I have a lot of LGBTQ icons that I look up to, but my favorite is probably Laverne Cox. She has been such an outspoken activist and voice for the trans community. She is proud of being a trans woman of color, and her courage inspires me all the time to keep fighting for what’s right, even when it gets tough.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I plan to be in medical school or working on my residency, hopefully in the Washington, DC area. My goal is to become an adolescent psychiatrist, and I want to work specifically with LGBTQ youth, particularly trans youth. Queer kids need and deserve affirming medical support, but right now, there is a shortage of medical professionals who have knowledge and experience with LGBTQ issues. I also intend to be involved in local politics so that I can fight for laws and policies that mean equality for everyone.

 

Hannah, 17

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I always seek to be involved in my community. When I discovered the YAC, I thought that it would be the perfect way to learn more about the LGBTQ community, meet new people, share my knowledge, write about the subjects that I care about, and find ways to help those who are struggling. I am thrilled to be part of the Trevor Project and to contribute to its lifesaving work.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

While it is difficult for me to choose one favorite, I would have to say that my favorite LGBTQ icon is Marsha P Johnson. I have Marsha, as well as many others, to thank for how far we have come in terms of LGBTQ rights. I love Johnson’s personality, especially her outspoken nature. She challenged gender stereotypes at a time when it was practically unheard of. Her immensely brave actions, including her participation in the Stonewall Riots and her help in the founding of the S.T.A.R. House, are absolutely inspiring.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I see myself having a college degree in a subject that I passionately enjoy, such as Gender Studies. I see myself as being involved in an organization, such as The Trevor Project, that empowers, protects, and educates people, specifically youth. I see myself as an activist, standing up for my beliefs and working to eliminate injustice, especially towards the LGBTQ community. I want to use my influence as a writer to positively impact people’s lives.

 

Jeffrey, 21

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I am passionate about advocating for Deaf LGBTQ+ rights. There are a lot of resources out there that are designed specifically for LGBTQ+ people. However, there are almost to zero resources that are deaf-friendly or are designed to serve Deaf LGBTQ+ people. As a Deaf and Gay individual, I experienced that struggle when I was unable to seek out for help. When the opportunity to join Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council came up, I knew I had to grab it. Now, one of my main goals is to bridge the gap between hearing LGBTQ+ and Deaf LGBTQ+ people and to ensure that Deaf LGBTQ+ are aware of possible opportunities that are available out there.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

Ever since I came out of the closet, I always have looked up to Harvey Milk. He is my LGBTQ icon, because he was the first openly gay elected official in the history of California. He was a predominant figure who fought for civil rights. Even though he lost several times in several political races, he showed that persistence is the virtue. He is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a lawyer.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

As an aspiring lawyer, it is my utmost passion to become an advocacy and fight for Deaf LGBTQ+ Rights by establishing a national LGBTQ+ Resource Center for the Deaf. It is one of my main goals to graduate from a law school with a J.D. degree specializing in civil rights law.

 

Kayla, 23

Why do you want to be part of the Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I think that as a mixed-race black gay woman, I have unique perspectives that would be beneficial to the Trevor Project. Furthermore, as someone who has done a lot of work with middle and high school-aged LGBTQ+ youth, I understand what a big difference supportive and empowering folks and institutions are for youth, and I admire Trevor’s similar belief that supporting young queer kids can save lives. And moreover, being a member of the YAC combines two of my favorite activities: talking to and about queers. I couldn’t be more excited.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

Hands down, Harvey Milk. I have a photo of him on my wall in my bedroom that shows him putting his chin up, and it inspires me to be positive on less-than-stellar days. Harvey was bold, fearless, fun, and genuinely cared about making big and small changes in his local community and in the broader LGBTQ+ community. I hope to be as brave and compassionate when I grow up.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I just graduated college and am in the midst of a lovely quarter-life crisis, so I consider this question to be a profoundly hurtful, personal attack. But if I had to look into my cloudy crystal ball and attempt a prophesy, I’d like to be someone who helps and motivates people, and who creates and builds community. I’m just not sure how to do it yet, to be completely honest. Wife and kids and dogs and white-picket fence, etc. Drake has a line, “I’m the light-skinned Keith Sweat.” Well, I’m trying to be light-skinned Oprah. (I just need to master basic adulting first.)

 

Kolby, 21

Hello! My name is Kolby Eller, and I am a senior socio-political communication major at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. Some of my hobbies include running, reading, and swimming. I am really excited to be a part of The Trevor Project because this organization means so much to me. Growing up as a member for the LGBTQ community in rural Missouri was difficult, and the Trevor Project’s It Gets Better campaign had a profound impact on my life. I am excited to be on the Youth Ambassador Council so I can strengthen my abilities to sympathize with LGBTQ youth, and hopefully help people along the way.   Recently, Edith (Edie) Windsor passed away; leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered forever. Her courage to challenge the system ultimately led to the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ultimately paved the way for the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015. Edie is my favorite LGBTQ icon because she is a reminder of how anyone, with enough courage and persistence, can have a profound impact on the world around them.  In ten years, I would like to have a law degree and be working in the public sector. Since coming to college I have discovered a sincere love for policy and how it can crafted to help people. I hope in ten years I am able to work at a place that allows me to help people, because I find that to be immensely fulfilling.

 

Lexi, 21

Why do you want to be part of the YAC:

I want to be part of the Youth Ambassador Council because suicide is something that has affected me and those I love. This issue is not discussed enough in mainstream media or within college campuses so I am eager to spread the message of The Trevor Project. Locally I work closely with my college advocating for and providing student mental health resources so I fell Trevor will be a good addition to that work and help me grow my resource base.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

My favorite LGBTQ Icon would have to be GiGi Gorgeous. I feel she really help propel trans visibility when it was so limited. Her visibility gave me the confidence to come out and be proud of my gender identity.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I hope to be working somewhere within our department of Justice. Currently our DOJ as a large amount of improvement to make, in order to better serve our LGBTQ community and marginalized communities. With this work my goal is to work from within and help institute that change either locally or nationally.

 

Melanie, 18

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC) because I have been part of the population we aim to help. I know first-hand what is like to struggle with mental illness and feel personally connect to Trevor’s mission. I want to be there for those who are now in a place where I used to be.

Who is your LGBTQ icon and why?

My favorite LGBTQ+ icon is Ricky Martin. I grew up listening to his music and when he came out it meant a lot to me. He made me feel like it was okay to be gay in the Latinx community, like it was okay to be myself in all that meant. He also has many other great songs besides “Livin’ la vida loca.”

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I see myself studying neuroscience while continuing to pursue my passion for art and writing. I see myself as a LGBTQ+ activist and a human rights advocate. I see bookshelves adoring my walls—containing books I have actually read— and an empty Netflix queue on my TV. I see myself learning to be better every day.

 

Oseremhen (Ose), 16

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I wanted to be a part of the YAC because I think it’s important for queer teens to see other young people like themselves living their truth. For me, being open and honest about my queerness and advocating for the safety of queer teens like myself is something I’m always going to be passionate about. Volunteering with Trevor is an honor because it gives me the opportunity to do so on such a large platform.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

Hands down I’d have to say Amandla Stenberg. They’re the first queer icon in mainstream media that I’ve seen myself in. When they came out and started being outspoken, first on the intersections between the black and bisexual communities and then the intersections between the feminist and non-binary communities, it was really special to me. I saw this young, black individual who looked like me and identified very similar to the way I do being unapologetic and I felt incredibly validated. The conversations they initiate in regards to the LGBT community, intersectionality, and language parallel the ones I frequently have in my own life. It’s nice to see that representation.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Firstly, I strongly believe Dr. Arheghan has a nice ring to it. Hopefully in ten years, I’ll have or be working towards a PhD in some subset of queer theory. I want to advocate for minorities in the LGBT community and expand the current definition of what it means to be queer. I’d love to produce work across various mediums — print, photography and film specifically — bringing light to aspects of the queer community that don’t get as much attention. I’d love to be working on a documentary on queer, minority activists and the effect they’ve had on history.

 

Patrick, 17

As a person who was fortunate enough to grow up among kind and accepting people, I feel obligated to help LGBTQ kids who deal with different circumstances. Nobody chooses the life into which they are born. I wanted to be a part of the Youth Ambassador Council because I felt that I was so lucky and therefore obligated to provide support to those who aren’t. It is devastating to see people who are marginalized for qualities in themselves that they can not control, and it is fundamentally unfair that the region of the country in which you live has such an effect on how you are treated.

Keith Haring is my favorite LGBTQ icon. I would even call him my idol. Haring was an artist who was able to capture the struggles and complexities of the gay experience with remarkably simple yet hauntingly profound imagery. He completely circumvented the pretension of the art world and made art for everyone, often drawing on the walls of subway stations and in other areas where the general public would be able to see it. He was publicly gay when it made him a pariah, and when he was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid 1980’s, his art became a means of activism, bringing awareness to the disease that ended his life in 1990. I frequently refer to his work for inspiration and guidance.

In ten years, I would like to be an academic, hopefully with a PhD or on the path to getting one. I really admire Judith Butler. Reading her book Gender Trouble exposed me to the world of academia, and it convinced me of its allure. I hope to be someone who can make people question the institutions and norms that they never consider.

 

Priscilla Anne, 20

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

Mental health awareness and suicide prevention was always something I cared about, but I was finally able to put that care into action when I became a volunteer Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line last November. Being support for people who need to be connected with the most is so important, which is why I appreciate The Trevor Project for being that support for LGBTQ youth. The YAC is a perfect marriage of suicide prevention and a greater participation in the LGBTQ community now that I’m out as queer and feel comfortable and free. Now I want to be heavily involved in LGBTQ advocacy so what better place to start than with The Trevor Project

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

My favorite LGBTQ icon would have to be Lady Gaga. Not only has she been open about her bisexuality since the start of her career (which is important for bisexual visibility), she’s a proud LGBTQ advocate. Between her efforts to help repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell”, the release of her single “Born This Way”, launching the Born This Way foundation, and including LGBTQ in her Super Bowl halftime show, she is a talented and incredible person who has done so much for the community.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I’d still be working for advocacy efforts with missions that I care about, maybe even working for a non-profit. Career wise, being involved with publishing or editorial careers is ideal, but I can only imagine where life will take me and I know I’ll take an opportunities that arise in stride!

 

Rachel, 17

Why do you want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council (YAC)?

I want to be part of The Trevor Project’s Youth Ambassador Council because the The Trevor Project’s mission is one that I believe in with my whole heart and my whole self. Serving as an ambassador in incredible opportunity for activism, and I’m thrilled to do all I can to help end suicide amongst LGBTQ+ youth.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ icon and why?

There are many LGBTQ+ individuals whom I greatly respect and admire, but none have  impacted my life more than 20th century poet Elizabeth Bishop. Harboring a great love for travel, Bishop spent a decade and a half living and writing in South America with her lover Maria Carlota “ Lota” de Macedo Soares, a Brazilian architect. She spent the latter years of her life in New York with artist Alice Methfessel. Like Bishop, I struggle with mental health, and like Bishop, writing is an irreplaceable part of my life and identity. I feel deeply connected to her as a strong, adventurous, creative LGBTQ+ poet who is unapologetically myself.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?​

In ten years, I see myself writing every day. I’ll have an interesting, creative job that I love. I’ll spend my time with people who make me think and make me laugh. I’ll still struggle to be kind myself. Some days I will be, and some days I won’t be – and I’ll know that that is okay. I’ll embrace my vulnerability, and I’ll embrace my power. In ten years, I’ll have a dog. I’ll have a home with plants, bookshelves, fuzzy blankets, and open windows. In ten years, above all, I see myself being happy.

 

Zachary, 20

Zachary Mallory is a suicide attempt survivor and is an award-winning Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and LGBTQ Advocate. Zachary is a Promise Fellow with AmeriCorps and Minnesota Alliance with Youth/ They also volunteer for other organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They are currently working on a documentary that will highlight the stories of those who have lived experience in dealing with suicide and mental health. Zachary is dedicated to raising awareness about the issues surrounding our community, and sharing their story in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.