Guiding Proud: Mentoring for LGBT youth

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Natasha DillonNew York City activist Natasha Dillon has a dream in which gay kids can safely find support, advice and role models among caring older members of the LGBT community. Among the most persistent problems the queer community has always had is the lack of safe, non-exploitative venues for intergenerational interaction.

Older LGBT persons often have a wealth of experience, including a personal knowledge of queer history, professional skills and resources and an established style of life that shows it is possible to live well and happily as an out, self-accepting individual. Yet our community provides few ways in which this treasure can be passed on to help young people struggling with their own identity.

guiding proudSeeing this need, Dillon began to conduct research. She found there was no mentoring program in New York for queer kids and decided to create one. Mentoring Partnership of New York, along with similar programs in Hartford and Los Angeles provided training and information. Her own involvement as an activist with such organizations as Queer Rising provided useful contacts and Guiding Proud has officially launched.

The pilot program envisions a group of 5 to 7 youths and 10 to 12 adults interacting in group activities such as bowling, movies, games/sports or picnics for a period of perhaps 3 to 4 months, getting a feel for the needs and dynamics involved. To begin with, Ms. Dillon has recruited adults personally known to her but as the program expands and individual mentors make a commitment to specific young people, background checks and training programs will be mandatory.

In an effort to locate young people open to such mentoring, Ms. Dillon is conducting exploratory conversations with organizations such as Sylvia’s Place, New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth, Harvey Milk School and administrators of various public schools in New York. Ms. Dillon expressed her understanding of the need to develop a solid reputation of accomplishment in order for Guiding Proud to seen as a useful partner by established queer youth service organizations, and that forms an important part of present goals.

Natasha Dillon can be contacted at natashadillon@guidingproud.org.

 

Natasha DillonNew York City activist Natasha Dillon has a dream in which gay kids can safely find support, advice and role models among caring older members of the LGBT community. Among the most persistent problems the queer community has always had is the lack of safe, non-exploitative venues for intergenerational interaction.