I couldn't help but wonder why I'd been invited to appear in a photo shoot for school promotional materials. Is it my funny floppy gauged ears? My tattoos? Was I chosen as some aesthetically alternative bastion of liberalism?
Whatever the reason, I couldn't resist and immediately agreed to it. Images came to my mind of hopping on steps with college kids throwing school books in the air or posing with smiles or skipping or rolling around in bright green grass or... who knows what. Something epic, no doubt.
I wore a bright purple shirt and a vest. That particular day was super sunny, but the windchill factor was freezing. Yet, between shoots, we were asked to remove our coats and try to appear warm and happy. They had us run up stairs, hop, smile, walk down the stairs chatting and smiling. It was so, so good - and I can't wait to, hopefully, at some point in the near future, receive the pictures to plaster on my blog.
On a really exhausting but positive-fun note, for my Adolescent Development class we're required to do at least 35 hours of "service learning with adolescents" by the end of the semester. For this, I have been volunteering in the T.I.N.T. (youth center) of the Utah Pride Center every week for 5 hours. It's astounding how much energy adolescents have. They're loud. They bounce from one thing to another. They crumble popcorn on microwaved pizza. They put wigs on me and laugh. For 5 hours every week, essentially, I'm a human pinata.
And love it.
The kids there are so cute. I've volunteered throughout the years in the past and, while there are fun and adorable aspects to it, other aspects are just, ... difficult. There are homeless LGBQT youth who come there and, while they're able to have food and a warm, safe place to stay during the day - come 9pm, they're out on their own, doing who knows what to survive. Hopefully somewhere safe, but most likely not.
It's sad how homophobia/transphobia could result in literally kicking one's child out to fend for themselves on the streets. Who end up doing drugs at night to stay awake so they're not hurt or raped - until morning comes and they can find somewhere safe and warm to sleep.
On a semi-related sweet but sad note, my grandma sent me a Facebook message today with a link to the following article of survey results from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality that have just been released. It's of 6,450 transgender people and is the largest of its kind:
NEW YORK (AP) — Many transgender Americans face intolerance in almost every aspect of their lives, contributing to high levels of homelessness, unemployment and despair, according to a comprehensive survey being released Friday.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality say their survey of 6,450 transgender people is the largest of its kind. It details discrimination encountered "at every turn" — in childhood homes, in schools and workplaces, at stores and hotels, at the hands of doctors, judges, landlords and police.
"Their lives are just a crapshoot," said Rea Carey, executive director of the task force. "They don't know from one interaction to the next whether they will be treated with respect and dignity. It's not the way people should be living their day-to-day life." Read more >
According to the survey, 41 percent of the transgender respondents reported attempting suicide - almost half.