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Finding queer hope in the face of adversity this Mentorship Month

Point Foundation Scholar mentee Jake with mentor Alan Guno
Courtesy Point Foundation

One mentor finds energy and hope in the LGBTQ youth of today.

We all have our LGBTQ idols, icons, or mentors whom we look up to — whether for life advice, as inspiration for our dreams, or for fashion or artistic insights. My voice teacher inspired my dreams. He was one of the first gay men I met who was in a relationship and allowed me to see what a happy, loving gay household could look like. His influence empowers me now as a musical artist to weave images of LGBTQ love into my songs.

The openness of my music and the outness of my current lifestyle do not reflect my childhood. Like many people I know, I was a “late bloomer.” I grew up in a small conservative community in rural America, where I battled both a society that was not accepting as well as my internal prejudices that restricted my willingness to embrace my identity as a gay man. It took years to accept myself for who I am and even longer to find my place in the LGBTQ community.

As I reflect upon the time it took for me to become active in the LGBTQ community, it’s easy to feel that I have had little impact compared to the heroes who faced the AIDS epidemic or those who spent decades on the frontline of equality. As this battle rages on today and we cling to the rights politicians seek to rip away from us, it is easy to become discouraged or overwhelmed in the face of this adversity. Some of us feel exhausted from what has already been a lifelong fight. Others feel lost about what course of action to take amid so much oppression.

But when I look at the LGBTQ youth of today, I find energy and hope for our fight.

The younger generation is our hope for a better future. Whether you have spent years in advocacy or you are just getting started, now is the time to invest in LGBTQ youth. And like my voice teacher, you can become someone who is a role model for what it is like to be LGBTQ in today’s world. We must proudly teach younger generations about our history so they can carry on the fight for equality and avoid repeating past injustices.

I recently celebrated my twelfth anniversary of meeting Jake, my mentee at Point Foundation, the largest nonprofit in the US providing scholarships and support for LGBTQ students in higher education. I was inspired to become a mentor in 2008 as a way to advocate for our community when Prop 8, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage, was on the ballot in California. Today, Jake is running a nonprofit, directs transgender and gender-diverse health programs at a significant health center, and continues to be an LGBTQ leader in his own right. He inspires young LGBTQ entrepreneurs to follow their dreams just as he did.

While I can’t take credit for Jake’s success, I hope our time together helped him learn about running a business and, most importantly, that he is not alone in his life’s efforts. I find myself inspired and optimistic about the future when I look at Jake and all he is doing for our community. You, too, can support the youth in your community and discover renewed motivation in today’s fight for LGBTQ rights. If you want hope or a way to stand up for your LGBTQ community, consider donating your time or financial support to LGBTQ organizations like Point Foundation and others that support young LGBTQ people. We can all build a better future, no matter how late in life we start.

Alan Guño is an Executive Director of Finance at Warner Bros. Discovery and a singer based in California. He volunteered as a mentor with Point Foundation, the nation’s LGBTQ scholarship fund, and serves as the chair emeritus on the Point Foundation board of directors.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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