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Rachel and the Importance of Role Models

Too often, LGBTQ+ young people don’t have LGBTQ+ role models. In fact, when we surveyed OUT MetroWest participants in April 2019, 15% didn’t know a single LGBTQ+ adult outside of our programs. An additional 41% only knew one or two LGBTQ+ adults. Think about it this way: by the time our youngest participants join us, they’ve had dozens of adults in their lives as teachers, healthcare providers, relatives, neighbors, coaches, clergy, and family friends. More than half of our participants can’t count more than one or two LGBTQ+ adults among those connections. How are these youth supposed to envision their own healthy, successful futures without multiple adults to look up to?

One of the best parts of our work is responding to this need. Our programs are facilitated by LGBTQ+ adults, ensuring that youth participants have role models in their lives. We also enjoy sharing the stories of our alums as they grow into adulthood. Today we want to share the story of Rachel, a four-year WAGLY participant and an alum of our peer leadership program. Rachel is now a college student, and we had the chance to catch up with her as she wrapped up her sophomore year.

Here’s what she told us:

Rachel smiling at camera, standing in front of colorful outdoor wall

Rachel, spending time in Boston

Us: How did you wind up attending OUT MetroWest programs?

Rachel: A friend told me about the meetings, and I decided to check out WAGLY. I could tell right away that it was a special place. The energy was really positive, and adults always made time for me.

Us: Weren’t you also involved in your school’s GSA?

Rachel: Yes! And it was great, but it was different. GSA was more about raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues. WAGLY was more of a space to just hang out and be myself.

Us: Why did you decide to become a peer leader?

Rachel: Knowing the struggles of LGBTQ+ youth personally, I wanted to make a difference. I thought that by sharing my story and my experiences, I could help others to see that they weren’t alone. I made it my goal to be open and transparent as a leader. Since I graduated, a new peer leader has told me that she’s been looking to my leadership style as a guide—that was the biggest compliment!

Us: What’s on your LGBTQ+ agenda now that you’re in college?

Rachel: Mostly I’m focusing on school, and music, and spending time with friends. But because of my experiences with OUT MetroWest, I also know that serving the LGBTQ+ community will always be a priority of mine. I’m excited to figure out how to incorporate that work into my future.

 

We’re so grateful to Rachel and all of the alums who remain connected to OUT MetroWest. Thank you for sharing your stories with us!

 

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