"Four years ago, my parents kicked me out of the house for being gay...
In the same month, I was jumped and attacked again by bullies at school, called "queer" and "faggot", but this time I was badly beaten. I was black eyed and bruised, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like nobody was there for me. I heard of a place for gay teens in Chicago, and I got the money together to take a train from Wisconsin to find the Broadway Youth Center.
The staff at the BYC welcomed me and made me feel at home almost immediately. On my first visit, I sat down and talked with a counselor. I told her how other kids had outted me at school, bullied me, and made me feel scared of going to school every day. I told her how I had tried to stay with friends and make things work out with my parents at home, but how I mostly felt like just giving up, like I wanted to end it all.
In that first conversation, my counselor saved my life. She talked with me for a long time about how I was feeling. I was able to express how alone I felt and how scared I'd been. She listened and spoke with me about identifying the support I needed to get through that time. More than anything, she and the staff at the BYC helped me realize that I was not alone.
I know I am lucky. With my counelor’s help, I called my older brother who agreed to take me in while we worked things out with my parents. And I made an appointment to come back to the BYC the following week to follow-up with her.
For more than a year, I came back weekly to the Broadway Youth Center. Every week, I took the train from Wisconsin to meet with my counselor and be with other kids like me at the BYC. In that time, I also returned to my high-school and finished my senior year. As graduation approached, I worked with my counselor to get a scholarship to a university in Chicago – something I never thought would be possible.
Today, I attend Loyola University and am about to graduate with my degree in nursing. I am an active volunteer at Howard Brown and the BYC and help other kids who may be experiencing some of what I went through. If I’m lucky, I hope to work as a nurse at Howard Brown Health Center or the BYC, to help other people like I have been helped!
There is no other place like the Broadway Youth Center or like Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago.
I believe that they saved my life, and I will be forever grateful."
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