Q: What was happening in your life when you started coming to IYG: were you doing okay in school? What about at home?
A: I was in my rebellious teenage phase. Acting out, religiously angry, and on the verge of being sexually active without safe sex knowledge. I was in a position where I was not sure about my sexuality. I did not know whether I was gay, straight, bisexual, or that pansexual was even a thing. My schooling was respectively tanking due to my rebellious attitude and lack of care. My house life wasn't anything extraordinarily good or bad. I lived with my grandmother primarily. She has a small apartment, but she was more than hospitable giving me everything I needed.
Q: How did you hear about IYG?
A: I was in 8th grade when I became infatuated with a classmate. He would give me constant compliments and attention. After dating for a few weeks, he invited me to the IYG Halloween Rave of 2009. I was not a very sociable teenager, but I decided to give IYG a chance.
Q: How was your experience your first time at IYG?
A: Going to IYG for the first time on arguably the biggest attendance night was scary. Very scary. Being around the different atmosphere really put me out of my comfort zone. I practically stayed next to my boyfriend, at the time, and a couple new friends also on their first night. I remember watching them smile and have fun, and I decided that's what I want out of IYG.
Q: How long have you been coming to IYG? Why?
A: I have been coming to IYG since October 2009, so a little more than 7 years. I fell in love with the staff and how much they care about the youth. In the beginning, I had a group of about seven friends, and we would hang out almost every Friday. This group was primarily older youth, since my personality and maturity made it a better fit. Eventually, all of them aged out and/or moved away, and I was the only one from the "old group". Eventually, it was my love for the organization and youth that evolved me from a standard youth to a youth helping the staff whenever I could. I would try to do the little things here and there to make the staff's life just a tad bit easier.
Q: What types of activities do you participate in? Why do you like participating in them?
A: I used to attend "Guys Who Like Guys" and "Bi/Poly/Pan", but gradually took on a more "behind the scene" role. I preferred to help clean up or set up groups, and pitch in helping with the food. I had a strong desire to make IYG a better place, and I was fine helping with doing whatever necessary.
Q: What has been your greatest challenge since coming to IYG?
A: I believe my biggest challenge has been to try and maintain and improve my current relationship with my partner, Bella (Female Pronouns). We first met almost 4 years ago at IYG. It wasn't until about 3 years ago we connected over a friendly volleyball match. That game sparked something much more than either of us expected. Throughout our relationship, we've suffered through barrier after barrier, trying extensively to keep our feelings for each other alive. One positive I remind myself is how much we've both grown as individuals, and I hope to work through our barriers and differences and continue living a life together outside of IYG as I go through the aging out process.
Q: In general, what has IYG done for you and why is IYG important to you?
A: If it was not for IYG, I would not have the knowledge of sex and gender identify, safe sex and relationship practices, and most importantly, I would not have the most influential role models in my life. If IYG can have this positive of an impact on me (being hyperactive and impossible to deal with at times), then I can only imagine how many lives have been and will be improved thanks to the efforts of all the staff and volunteers.