Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Short Reflection of Community Organizations by Kyle Rapinan

A college education, this is the aspiration I knew would be an escape to a life of instability and hostility. I have a similar story to many youth that are abandoned by their families for convenience. When I was fourteen I ran away from home because being gay was not an option with my unstable mother and homophobic and violent brother. I floated from friend's house to friend's house throughout my high school career. Four years is a long time to live such instability. The bullying followed me to my school when I came out there. I turned to the Gay Straight Alliance at my school for help and found out that I was not worthless and had a purpose. I kept focused and graduated with decent grades and a surprising acceptance to the University of Washington.

Looking back at my negative and positive experiences I know that if it was not for community organizations, loving friends, and loyal teachers I would not be here today. I am a true example of a village raising a child. My village happened to consist of mostly LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), or inclusive, organizations. It made sense that I would fall into the safety net of Seattle's LGBT community. This community happened to be the only place where I truly felt safe and accepted. The LGBT community in Seattle, and the allies who helped me figure out my purpose in life, truly saved me from a life of instability and homelessness. Organizations like the Lambert House, a queer youth drop in center, American Friends Service Committee, a social justice organization and speaker's bureau, Seattle Education Access, an educational advocacy organization, and of course, the Safe Schools Coalition, a international partnership for safer schools, helped truly solidify my future. I would not be here today, or the young adult I am presently, without these, and countless other community organizations. The people organizing for safer schools with Safe Schools Coalition have truly changed my life and I hope to give back continuously.

But then my dreams almost seemed unobtainable when my mother would not release her tax returns so I could receive federal money. My dreams came to a halt and I panicked. But then I heard about SEA and they worked with me to petition the University of Washington to grant independent status so I could receive federal funds. I was also able to receive a couple large scholarships from Pride Foundation, Colin Higgins Foundation, the GSBA and other community organizations. I utilized the Safe Schools Coalition youth website to discover doors to my future. Safe Schools is a great resource for our community.

I am happy to report that I have the next few years paid for and my dream of a college education is being fulfilled everyday. I plan on obtaining a law degree and becoming a civil rights lawyer for non-profit's and minorities. I can not thank LGBT organizations enough, like Safe Schools, for their empathy, love and care for the future leaders of tomorrow.

Kyle Rapinan
Past Intern for American Friends Service Committee and Safe Schools Coalition
University of Washington Student


  1. Kyle, I am touched by your shout-out to the Safe Schools Coalition. I would add one specifically to Ethan Blustein who did a phenomenal job, I thought, in supervising you during his Americorps service year. But I especially want to add that you are as much a gift to the LGBTQ community as it is to you. I am proud to call you a colleague and friend.
    -- Beth (Reis)

  2. Kyle,
    I've heard it said: "That which does not kill me... only makes me Stronger." {Nietzsche}
    You have weathered many storms; and although I was not there for you personally... it seems as though you've survived to become stronger as you've created a loving and safe place for yourself.
    Very admirable demonstration of purpose young man.
    How does it feel to be such an Inspiration?