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  • jfthomas5528

Ypsi Born and Bred to Lead!

Kenneth! Hello! Tell me a little about yourself.

Well! I am an Ypsi local, high school class of 2019. I’m 22 now, and attending college. I founded the GSA/QSA at my local high school and I am so proud of that. I am also one of several Coordinators for Ypsi PRIDE, and have served on their board since 2019.

That’s absolutely amazing that you have such a community focused mindset. We want to make sure we are always telling the right stories that are most relevant to our communities!

Who did you first come out to?

I came out during homecoming of my freshman year of high school. The first person I remember telling is someone at Homecoming that has become a sister to me, an incredibly close friend. The next person I told was my bowling coach, who happens to be gay.

How were you treated by kids after coming out?

I didn’t publicly come out until my Sophomore Year of High School. People knew throughout high school, but no one really asked. I was outed by someone else, and embraced it the best I could. I founded the GSA at my local high school my junior year.

It was very important to me to make sure I owned my own truth. For a long time. I didn’t put any level on myself. I wanted to be open to new experiences so I could discover who I am.

Why did you choose to serve with Ypsi PRIDE?

I chose to join because I knew that I was going to be local after high school. I started taking on the initiative of helping my local community. There’s a need for certain demographics to be more present in the community, especially youth. The youngest person on the board when I joined was 32, so the gap between that person and me was pretty wide. I wanted to bring diversity in terms of race and ideas. I believe in asking the question: who is going to encourage the next generation? Who are you going to admire? You want people who are of a similar background. And that’s what I hope to provide.

Was that gap an issue?

The gap in age wasn’t an issue. I was very transparent during the introductions. I said that I was here to bring diversity on age and race. I feel like I’ve done well in terms of focusing on that and bringing youth.I had so many GSA people coming to me asking questions. The overlap between both was important.

What are your personal/professional goals?

I’m starting to see that there is a bigger issue in the community. The communication breakdown leads to people like me streamlining communication between organizations. With the board, my goal was to push for more programming and diversity. There’s so much more than just PRIDE to use our voice towards. We have to better the community and that is my goal.

“You always want to leave a place in a better position than you when you get there”.

What advice do you have for young LGBTQ+ black men?

Enjoy life. Spend time with those you love. Fight for what you believe in. Do what makes you happy. Be the support for other people.

Who is your role model?

My mentor is Desmine Robinson. He was in my Upward Bound program. He helped me understand my mental health, identity, and how to project my voice to further my community goals. He pushed me to be the person at the front, where before I was in the background.

Kenneth with his mentor, Desmine

Thank you Kenneth. For your leadership, your engagement, and your light.

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