Interview with Charlie, Youth Organizer

03/09/2024 | Interviewer: Shel, Outright staff

Shel: Who are you?

Charlie: I’m Charlie! He/him pronouns.

S: Tell me about your campaign!

C: This is my second year as a Youth Organizer. Right now I'm in Youth Power in Education. Also this year I’ve been working with Jayy and Mercedes [Jayy Covert and Mercedes Maurice] on structuring the meetings for the other campaigns, because I've done this program before. 

Right now I’m doing Youth Power in Education, so we're working on Leadership Day stuff, and planning workshops. I have a workshop that's about youth organizing beyond high school, and what to do with those skills.

S: Tell me more about that workshop!

C: I was here last year and I was learning a lot about organizing, and then this year in college I'm starting this whole new thing - like a whole new community, and, you know, making friends, and I'm super busy with academics and stuff - but like, I've been thinking a lot about how to use the skills that I learned as an Outright organizer in high school, in college. Because it's very, very different. I don't have GSAs and like the support that I would have in high school, so it's just a very different way of organizing that I want to talk about.

The thing that I really love about Outright, that has helped me the most about being at Outright is, I'm studying social science, I'm studying political science, and Outright has shown me things that people do as adults professionally with the information that I'm currently learning in school.

So like, if I had not gone to Outright, I would still know, you know, that there's roles for people in activism and social work and stuff. But this has given me a very concrete opportunity to see work being done in real life as adults and as youth, and I just am grateful for the experience I've had here because of that.

S: Do you feel like it’s changed how you view yourself and your future? Are there things you learned about yourself?

C: Yeah, I learned I'm pretty good at public speaking! Um, I did Leadership Day last year and I was the emcee - It was so fun. I never speak in front of people, like, whenever I speak, all of the words fall out of my mouth and I'm not sure what I'm saying anymore. But emceeing was different. Being in front of so many people was different. Sometimes you just know exactly what to do and say, and that was a skill I never really unlocked before.

S: What do you think unlocked that for you?

C: I think Outright feels like a very safe environment for me as opposed to most other times when I'm speaking to people, especially a lot of people. I know nobody's gonna be like, oh, like "That's a stupid idea, that’s a dumb idea." It's just a very supportive place to work at.

S:What’s one lesson you learned from being a youth organizer that you want to remember forever?

C: Honestly, I think that I can do really cool things - like emceeing the Leadership Day rally! And that there's people who want to make a change and that the most important thing is learning how to make that change. I've watched this program sort of grow over the two years I've been here, and I think it's just getting better and better. I’m very proud of everyone in the program.

S: How do you envision things changing in the future? What are your hopes?

C: I think that change happens very slowly. But change like this, like grassroots organizing, is a really good way to create community. I think that's the most important thing Outright does - it lets people know that community is possible.

Another very concrete thing that Outright does is working in schools. I think we have the edge to genuinely make a lot of change - creating more GSAs and access to resources for youth.

But then on a wider scale, just this aspect of community coming together for some big issue that they care about is really powerful.

S:Do you feel there's like a stronger community around you now?

C: Yeah! Yeah. Now if I have an idea for something I want to try in my school, I can text V [Courage V Pearson] and be like, “Hey, what do you think about this?” I can just - I have people who I can talk to about ideas that I think are cool, when otherwise I would just not really know where to start.

S: What did you do with your ideas before?

C: Nothing!! Like, I just, I didn't know - I didn't realize that I can actually do things. Like, I just had all these ideas about how I want to change society, what I like and don't like about the world we live in, but…

I remember, like, watching youtube videos as a kid and just thinking, "Oh God, this sucks. This is so horrible. I wish I could do something." But I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to start. Outright’s given me a place to start.

S: What inspired you to apply as a Youth Organizer?

C: I've been here for two years. I was going to boarding school. I was looking around at different programs in the area, just for volunteering. Because I just wanted to do something to get more connected to the local community. And I stumbled across Outright and I was like, oh, I think what they're doing is super awesome! And I emailed Jayy, and I was like, hey, can I volunteer? Can I help you? And I helped with some GAR [Gender Affirming Resources] stuff a couple of times. And then Jay was like, hey, do you want to join [the Youth Organizing program]? And I was like, f*** yeah, I do! So then I joined the program last year.

I was really looking for community. And I think it’s cool that I found it.

S: When you think back on your time as a Youth Organizer are there moments that stand out where it was clear this program is right for you?

C: I think this year. It was doing things like starting up a GSA… and at Leadership Day, I wrote this really sick speech that was on the news! I talked to a couple of news sources and now when people look at my videos, I can be like - Yeah, that’s me! Anyway. [laughs]

But yeah, this year, being like, Oh, this is work that actually is making change. Now I'm studying this sh** and I know how these social systems that we’re trying to change really work, on a much deeper level. And now I can look back at what I was doing last year and be like, hey, hey, hey! I didn't even realize the change I was making then, but now I do.

S: What aspects of you are amazing that you want people to know? And what is powerful about those parts of your identity?

C: I think that I'm a person that doesn't talk about my identity a lot. Like, I don't discuss it with people. Like, it's obvious that I'm trans, it's obvious that I'm queer. But I don't, I don't really talk about it with people, but rather it sort of, comes out in other ways, from l what I choose to study, where I choose to work, and how I interact with people. It changes the way I perceive the world, I think in a positive way because I understand more about myself and more about other people because I'm different.

When I get questions about my identity I’m like - I don't know, I'm a person, I'm just existing! I feel like I don't strongly identify with the trans community, which is so funny because I work here. But it's rather the experiences I've taken from being trans that matter most to me. I can't separate it from myself and look at it and be like, oh, this is an identity. Because when someone's like, what's your identity? It's like, this is me. Like, I don't have an identity. I'm just me.

S: Anything else you wanna get on tape?

C: Hmm… Outright’s great!

A Permanent Home for Camp Outright!

With the historic aquisition of beautiful Camp Sunrise, we're bringing to life the power of radical hope for LGBTQ+ youth. Heck Yeah! 

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