(#43, 42, and 41 in a series of people who changed the course of my life)
Dream with me:
What if every child were empowered to live out their purpose as early in life as they felt its call? What if they were valued for their gifts and talents and never taught to be ashamed of their sexuality, gender, or any other attribute?
I myself did not grow up with this sense of self and now well into mid-life, I am finally living into what I perceive to be a greater sense of purpose. But how marvelous is it to see young people getting started in the earliest years of burgeoning adulthood, empowered with affirmation and acceptance, expressing themselves, and many, working for the good of others.
Young adults like Miles Dean, Josh Rudner, and Avery Frye.When I think of the future, these three young adults—one freshly graduated from high school and the others entering senior year—jump to the forefront of my mind. You see, they aren’t waiting to be “ordained” by the LGBT elders or any commissioning organization before they get started changing the world.
I must first recognize and pay sincere homage to these young peoples’ families. For them to be where they are today means that, more than likely, they have had extremely strong support from their parents at the very least if not also from teachers and within their communities and/or church families. Any of us are capable of leveraging our gifts without that kind of support, but having to fight the heartache of parents who don’t accept you for who you are and/or don’t understand your passions has often been limiting, if not also debilitating, for most of us.
But not these three. With a fevered pitch usually visible only in hardened, tested activists, they leave no doubt where they stand; on no laurels do they rest.Miles co-founded a GSA in his high school and has worked out a program to build a network linking other GSAs and a program to provide homes to kids who have to leave their homes due to lack of acceptance for who they are. Not unlike a brash, young Cleve Jones, Miles is taking the LGBT community to task to increase its involvement in the youth of today and investing in their future. Josh is a leader in his school’s GSA and will serve as its president during his senior year. He has not been at all shy about advocating for the full equality of LGBT people and for echoing Milk’s clarion call to make the world a better place for “kids in Altoona, PA”–and right here at home, too. He was recently rewarded with a Community Spirit award from the City of Dallas LGBT Task Force for his bold stand and advocacy. Avery, an active youth volunteer, rolls up her sleeves, working with the community LGBT youth task force and being visible as a straight ally within her local GSA. As student council president at her high school and in her youth group at the largely LGBT church her family are members of, Avery is expanding her visibility as a model of inclusion and advocacy. She is proud of her dad who is gay and is remarkably supportive of her gay, transgender, and gender-queer peers.
Every day of their lives, these young people and others like them, are proving that they are the future–right now. I am so proud of them and inspired in my work by them to make this world a better place for them and those that follow.
I mean, if they’re doing it in their teens, why the heck can’t I–we–do it now?
Watch an excerpt of Miles speaking at the 2015 Dallas Harvey Milk Day Celebration:
Watch an excerpt of Josh speaking at the Light the Way to Justice Vigil for Marriage Equality on the eve of the Supreme Court’s hearing on marriage: https://www.facebook.com/dallasdayofdecision/videos/1416374295348347/?autoplay_reason=all_page_organic_allowed