New Website Offers Resources and Support for LGBTQ Youth

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Throughout the past year, instances of LGBTQ teen suicide and bullying have been all over the news, evidence that something must change. A new website, BornLikeThis.org, has recently been launched to provide support and resources for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) youth and to promote awareness of LGBTQ bullying and teen suicide. The website seeks to accomplish its mission from a rather unique perspective. BornLikeThis is created by LGBTQ youth for LGBTQ youth. This creates an environment that speaks to youth on their terms, discusses relevant topics, provides a place that teens can feel comfortable being themselves, and offers help and support from people that youth can better relate to - themselves.

Throughout the past year, instances of LGBTQ teen suicide and bullying have been all over the news, evidence that something must change. A new website, BornLikeThis.org, has recently been launched to provide support and resources for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) youth and to promote awareness of LGBTQ bullying and teen suicide. The website seeks to accomplish its mission from a rather unique perspective. BornLikeThis is created by LGBTQ youth for LGBTQ youth. This creates an environment that speaks to youth on their terms, discusses relevant topics, provides a place that teens can feel comfortable being themselves, and offers help and support from people that youth can better relate to - themselves.

What truly sets BornLikeThis apart from other resources intended to help LGBTQ youth is that it is created, written, researched and edited by the very people it is meant to serve. The drive and vision behind BornLikeThis.org comes from students of New York University’s Delta Lamdba Phi fraternity, the nation’s only gay fraternity. Team members include Joseph Picini, Johnny DeVito, Michael Cavarratta, Colin Brown, and Eduardo Lipe, as well as successful business owner, Adam Banks, who has generously funded the project and acts as an advisor.

While the site provides a wealth of resources and support, it does so in a dialogue that connects to kids, teens and young adults. Raw and edgy, open and honest, fresh and young, BornLikeThis.org seeks to build trust and empower LGBTQ youth on their own terms. “We look to be a source of information at the teenager’s level,” explains Colin Brown, BornLikethis team member. “We know we might offend some adults, but that’s okay. This is to help kids.”

It may be nearly impossible to change how people view LGBTQ people overall, but it is possible to change how LGBTQ youth view themselves, and that is exactly what BornLikeThis has set out to do. BornLikeThis.org wants youth to understand one thing – that they were born like this. “It’s not just a phrase, it’s a thought revolution” explains Joe Picini, BornLikeThis team member, “we want LGBTQ youth to understand that they were born the way they are and that they should be proud of who they are.”

BornLikeThis.org addresses topics such as growing up as a LGBTQ teen, coming out, drugs and alcohol, religion, bullying, LGBTQ news, pop culture, positive role models and more. The agenda is simple. The site aims to talk to youth, to give them a safe space to discover themselves, and to direct them to the resources they need if they are in trouble. It is not meant to be a “feel good” space that appeals to adults or garners national attention. It is meant to be edgy, to be raw, and to be written in a way that teens can relate to. It is intended to build trust, to promote empowerment, and to provide a comfortable space within which teens and young adults can find people who are going through similar experiences. By learning about how others have made it through what is often a rough period in life, it can teach teens how to cope with their own situations in a positive manner and can provide hope.

Through BornLikeThis.org, LGBTQ youth have the opportunity to learn and interact with other LGBTQ youth on their own turf and in their own language. “We believe that we can help youth by telling them the stories of other people coming out. Sometimes the stories are good, and sometimes the stories are painful. We feel that even in the painful stories there is hope for other kids. They can see that they are not in this alone, that others have gone before them,” says Johnny Devito, another BornLikeThis member. The cornerstone of the website includes videos in which LGBTQ share their stories. The videos, sometimes uplifting but often painful and exhibiting a rawness that youth can relate to, show that being LGBTQ is okay and let them know that they are not alone.

Another main goal of BornLikeThis.org is to improve the self image of LGBTQ youth by offering examples of positive role models. In a society in which being different is sometimes treated as failure, BornLikeThis intends to show that there are many LGBTQ that are successful and happy, and that there is immense hope within the LGBTQ community. The website created a “Top 25 Under 25” list that recognizes and celebrates young adults who are positive influences in society, and plans to make this an annual feature of the site.

Although the website’s primary mission is geared to addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth, there are resources that can benefit adults as well. Videos and stories can help educate parents and educators about what LGBTQ youth go through. The site will include information about how to deal with young adults coming out, advice from kids to their parents on how they wish they would’ve handled coming out, and stories from parents of gay teens.

BornLikeThis.org offers a unique perspective that comes from a dedicated group of youth committed to empowering other LGBTQ teens and young adults. Members of the Delta Lambda Phi fraternity will be regularly updating the site to include relevant resources, news and stories that offer support, insight and inspiration. Dialogue and conversation will be shared to spread the message that it is okay to be LGBTQ. As the website states, “We exist for those who, like ourselves, openly identify as members of the LGBTQ community and realize they were born like this – whatever their personal ‘this’ might be.”

For more information about BornLikeThis, visit http://bornlikethis.org or contact Adam Banks at adam(at)bornlikethis(dot)org.

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