For Frank Young, cultivating community among LGBTQ people in the Detroit, Michigan area is an important, central part of his life. He has been involved in the Ruth Ellis Center, an LGBTQ community center in Detroit, for more than a decade. And in 2018 he became the youngest person to join the board of the organization. He’s worked with the center in many different capacities, from a peer staff member to an employee dedicated to programming and funding. Later, he got involved in the program committee and developed a plan to reintroduce a Youth Board.
“Getting youth involved and making sure they have a voice – that was the goal,” Frank said. As the Youth Liaison, he helps ensure that youth served by the center are heard and given space. Frank is dedicated to the center because of his experience as an LGBTQ young person who found solace in the center. “My mentor was from the Ruth Ellis Center, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him.” Frank said. “So now it’s important that I give back to the community – and that sounds so cliché, but it’s the truth. Queer youth really don’t know what the dangers of the real world are. They often didn’t have the traditional backing of society or family, so they need mentors to help guide them through.”
Frank understands some of where the LGBTQ young people who attend the Center are coming from: He struggled with harassment, bullying, and discrimination as a young person himself. He’s doing better now, employed with a global staffing agency and working successfully with hundreds of employees. But those early years left an impression on him. And it’s partly why he speaks out regularly on the need for nondiscrimination protections that include LGBTQ Americans, in Michigan and beyond. “My high school years were hard,” he said. “That’s when I was really at my lowest. I had the most anxiety then. And I want to ensure the youth coming up behind me are protected and secure.”