Youth Voices: Mckenzie With Some Great Coming-Out Advice and the Impact of #BlackLivesMatter


G Philly presents a new collaboration with youth from The Attic Youth Center to spotlight the creative magic and cultural contributions of Philly’s LGBTQ youth of color. Today, Mckenzie talks about becoming a mental health counselor and how she is inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

McKenzie

Where would you like to see improvement for the LGBTQ community in Philly?
I would like to see people supporting each other more. That’s what I expect in community. I haven’t even really been in this community that long, but I’ve noticed a lot of cliques and a lot of people bashing each other and that’s what I really hope to see improved. I see a lot of violence, too.

What kind of violence do you see in the community?
Gay-bashing. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a lot of gay, lesbian, or bisexual people looking at me weird. They stare down, or have a nasty attitude. They’ll say stuff to me like, “are you a boy,” “are you a girl?” And my comment is always, “Hmm, I don’t remember.”

Is there a social cause that inspires you?
The #BlackLivesMatter movement shows people’s dedication and hard work for something they stand for. They’re really risking their lives when they go on strikes and protests. I saw videos of people online, and the police were using gas bombs and attacking the protesters. This movement means that people in and out of the community are supporting black lives and they’re fighting for equality. I mean, we’re all fighting for equality, but we’re all on different pages.

McKenzie (right) and Dalyla at The Attic's youth drag show.

McKenzie (right) and Dalyla at The Attic’s youth drag show.

What’s new in your world?
I finish high school next week! I just started hormones, like, a month ago. I’m applying to colleges. I want to be a mental health counselor. I love helping people. I just have a really big heart. I have so many people in my life that I really care about, and I’m driven to help them. For instance, this one girl who came to The Attic told me she was homeless. I didn’t know her from a can of paint. I’d only known her a week and I told her she could stay at my house. I have a really big heart, and I want to help anyone, if possible. I know I can’t do all this when I’m a counselor. I feel like that’s going to be my downfall. I’m going to freaking cry and whatnot, but I want to help people get to where they want to be.

What advice would you give to someone who is questioning or considering coming out as LGBTQ?
Take your time, there’s no rush at all. You should come out when you’re comfortable. Tell people who you really trust. My downfall when I came out, well, I didn’t even come out myself: someone told my mom for me. I told the wrong people. I told my cousin, she told my mom, and then my mom was questioning me about it and I had to put it out there and tell her. So, I tell people to really think about what you want to say, how you want to say it, you know? And, don’t be afraid at all. It’s scary, but try not to hold it back for too long. Come out when you’re ready.

If you could directly address the LGBTQ population-at-large, what would you want to say to them?
Can I use a quote?
Sure.
“Gender means nothing when you experience true love.”
Who said that?
Google. (laughs) I just saw it on Google and I really liked it.