Gabriela was the first member of Youth Group Jr. When she first came to the Frederick Center, she was one of two people in that support group.
When Gabriela came out as a lesbian at age 10, she lost all her friends at catholic school. “I was the only queer person at school, and I was very depressed after losing all my friends because I came out.” When she and her family searched for LGBTQ+ support groups, they could not find any that would welcome a 10-year-old child. “It felt like I wasn’t fully gay, and I wouldn’t be accepted in the community until I was 13.” She recalled. “There was nowhere out there for me.”
The Frederick Center provides peer support groups to LBGTQ+ youth and their families. The groups are guided by mental health professionals who can give participants guidance and support to help process grief, stigma, bullying, and depression. When Gabriela’s parents reached out, looking for support, the Center decided to launch a Youth Group Jr. program for pre-teens like Gabriela. At first, the group started small, with only Gabriela and another child participating. It quickly grew over the pandemic. Soon, Gabriela began to find friends, some of whom lived just down the street from her.
Most importantly, in her opinion, Gabriela began to find role models. “Having happy, connected, queer adults like Glorie, our Program Director, in my life has been life-changing.” She explained. “Getting to see happy, queer adults—who not only survived but thrive as their true selves—I don’t even have words for how happy it made me.”
Now Gabriela is in high school and attends weekly youth groups at the Frederick Center with her friends. She is an active advocate for the community, volunteers at events and rallies, and is a prominent leader in her school’s SGA club.
The Frederick Center exists so that youth like Gabriela can see a light at the end of the tunnel and know that they do not have to be alone in the world. As volunteers, parents, donors, and everyone who supports The Center’s mission, thank you for all you do to help us be a place of welcome, love, and community to queer children in and around Frederick.