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March 6, 2018

Andy, 20, she/her/hers or any pronouns with respect

Q: What was happening in your life when you started coming to IYG: were you doing okay at school? How were things at home?

A: I started coming to IYG partially because I had friends who were already attending but also because my sister had just come out as trans. Personally I felt school was going fine and I was finding myself in that. Home was a little tense because having two kids come out at once was a lot for my parents.

Q: How did you hear about IYG?

A: Through all my queer friends at school.

Q: What went through your mind when you first heard about IYG?

A: I already knew about my sister, she just hadn't come out yet but I was more just excited to hang out with my friends and bring my sister to a place where she could find community. 

Q: Was it hard to come to IYG the first time? Did you come with friends or by yourself?

A: I wouldn't say it was hard, maybe a little nerve-wracking. I wasn't sure if any of my friends would be here that night. The first time I went by myself, and the second time I brought my sister. I wanted to check out the place to make sure she would feel welcome. 

Q: How long have you been coming to IYG? Why do you keep coming?

A: I've been coming to IYG for almost 3 years now. I keep coming not only because the staff are amazing but the friends I've found are irreplaceable.

Q: What types of IYG activities do you participate in? Why do you like participating in them?

A: At IYG, I participate in Queer in the Mirror, Open Mic Night, and ArtReach. I really just enjoy them because they allow me to express myself. Queer in the Mirror has really helped me with my self-esteem issues and because of that it helps me express myself in other groups.

Q:What has been your greatest challenge since coming to IYG (either at IYG or school or home or ???)

A: I think my biggest challenge within IYG was definitely learning more about myself, how I associate with my gender and sexuality. It took me awhile to find the right words to describe where I stand. And I had a lot of people unintentionally question me during that process which made me feel insecure. But those were different times.

Q: In general, what has IYG done for you or why is IYG important to you?

A: IYG gave me a sense of self. There was a point in time when I was questioning my leadership abilities. I was questioning my ability to help many of those around me, my friends. But at IYG I ended up being dubbed the nickname, "Mom." among my IYG friends. That really helped impact decisions in my life. It's a place that I know that if I need to be somewhere just for me I can be.

March 6, 2018

This month Indiana Youth Group is highlighting a new program that started in February and is designed to help the youth in our community that experience homelessness. Many of the homeless youth in Indianapolis identify as LGBTQ and LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness in their teen years than their straight peers. One in four LGBTQ youth are turned out of their home when they come out to their family, they are staying with friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many are sleeping in cars or on the street. They do not have a permanent address or a solid network of support. IYG is hoping to be a little more support for them, with the Basic Needs Program.

The Basic Needs Program provides a safe place to shower, do laundry, get new clothes, food, hygiene items, and a hot meal. IYG is also partnering with nonprofits like the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) and Adult and Child to connect these youth to more support mechanisms to get them into shelter, work, education, or a stable home. These services and partnerships are so important to connect this population that may not know where to go or what help is even out there.

The Basic Needs program runs 4-7pm Monday evenings. Indianapolis Public Schools have identified hundreds of youth who go to school and live on the streets. IYG is partnering to get those youth to our center on Monday evenings to get services and food.

It roughly costs $75 a week for the IYG to provide these basic needs. The Daun Fund, a fund of the Indiana Youth Group, has received a match challenge for $1,000 from Paula Susemichel in the month of March for the Basic Needs program. Please help IYG continue to be that safe space for the LGBTQ youth of central Indiana by donating today.

To donate click here!

Indiana Youth Group

February 21, 2018

February 1, 2018

Tom was kind enough to answer some questions about his experience with IYG.

When and how did you first get involved with IYG?

I first became involved with IYG about a year and a half ago when I met with Mary Byrne and Buffy Adams to discuss possible volunteer opportunities during my upcoming retirement. Living in Indianapolis since the mid-1970s, I had been aware of IYG and the great work it had been doing, but as I neared retirement, I wanted to devote more time and resources to the LGBTQ community and support the welcoming environment that had first been established at the 46th Street location and would be continuing at the new Activity Center on Meridian.

What does your day-to-day involvement as a volunteer look like?

I have been volunteering on Fridays for several months (except when there are Pacer games 😊), but since the first of the year I've also volunteered on most Wednesdays. I usually arrive around 3 PM and stay until 7 or 8, but hours can be very flexible. I spend most of my time in the kitchen setting up premeal snacks, assisting with serving the main meal, and doing various clean-up jobs. Its central location makes the kitchen a great place to chat with the youth and other volunteers as they arrive. I contribute one meal per month from a local restaurant and, as part of that, heat up mac and cheese as a side dish (which is the extent of my cooking abilities). When needed, I've been a room monitor on occasion, and in the near future, I hope to attend more of the open programming sessions.

What inspires you to work so hard for LGBTQ+ youth?

I'm inspired most of all by the youth, who are always respectful and appreciative of volunteer efforts. I've been incredibly impressed by how welcoming they are to new youth and their families and how they clearly thrive on the friendships they have created with one other. I'm inspired by the staff, who are true professionals and always available to address personal problems a youth might have and provide needed services and referrals. I'm inspired by the collegial relationships that develop among the volunteers and how we all seem to fit together for a common purpose. Finally, I'm inspired by the opportunity to support an organization that has had such an enduring and positive influence on LGBTQ youth in our community.

What do you look forward to this year after so much has changed at IYG?

With the spacious new Activity Center, new staff, and great leadership, I look forward to the future expansion of services to address the needs of homeless youth, to the development of the outside green space for summer activities, to greater interactions with the now-all-in-one-place staff, and to opportunities for my own personal development. I'd like to continue my life-long learning into health-related issues affecting LGBTQ youth, particularly the transgender community, and also explore the possibility of updating my mentoring skills in math and science.


Thank you Tom for your time and dedication to creating a safe space for the LGBTQ youth of Indianapolis to be themselves!


June 21, 2017

Q: What was happening in your life when you started coming to IYG: were you doing okay at school? How were things at home?
A: I heard about IYG my freshmen year of high school but didn't start coming consistently till almost two years later. I have always been a fairly good student, but rarely invested myself in school or in my interactions with my peers. My home life has always been less than ideal and incredibly unstable.
Q: How did you hear about IYG?
A: I went to Zionsville High School, which at the time was not at all queer friendly but I had heard one of my gay friends mention that there was an LGBT+ youth group in Indianapolis.
Q: What went through your mind when you first heard about IYG?
A: I grew up in a conservative Christian family so when I heard the phrase "LGBT+ youth group" I was incredibly confused. To me youth group was something that I had always associated with church which to me was the opposite of a queer space. I was incredibly excited at the idea that there were enough queer people in Indianapolis to make a youth group (needless to say I had been a little sheltered from and mislead about the LGBT+ community growing up).
Q: Was it hard to come to IYG the first time? Did you come with friends or by yourself?
A: I am and always have been an incredibly introverted and quiet person so my first night at IYG was anxiety provoking and mildly terrifying to say the least. The only reason I actually made it in the door was because I had promised my friend that I would come and at least see what it was like.
Q: How long have you been coming to IYG? Why do you keep coming?
A: I have been coming to IYG for almost five years. At first I kept coming because I needed a way out of the house and I wanted to see my friend, but the longer I've been at IYG the more it has become a family and community for me and provided a sort of consistency and stability in my life that I have never really had.
Q: In general, what is your opinion of IYG and what would you like to become involved with at the center?
A: I love IYG for what it is and what it has done for me and the people in my life. I am beyond excited for the new space to open and for the center to have the ability to impact so many more youth in Indianapolis. As far as things at the center I would like to become more involved in, I have at some point been a part of almost every program that is offered at the center; and because I only have a year or so left before my age out I feel like I need to start giving back to the community at the house as well as shift my energy towards organizations with similar goals as IYG where I can be a part of educating and advocating for our community.