FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — There are layers to someone’s coming out story. Different, but alike in everyone.
From the fear of support in your own home...
"You have to really put on a couple layers of that mask to hide everything, because its they’ve got un-supporting parents they feel like they just need to stay in their own little corner," says a transgender teen who is part of the Colors+ Youth Center in Fairview Park.
To anxiety over your own exploration -- and during the last year adding in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There were definitely some weeks that I had some low weeks, and some really depressed weeks because I couldn’t really see or talk to anyone," the teen remembers.
But things do get better, and eventually those layers can be stripped away, which is something Colors+ works on every day.
“There is hope, there is support, and if you need mental health support, we have support at Colors+," says their co-founder, Kristen Pepura.
To peel back the layer of familial support, Colors+ puts a big emphasis on the mental health of the whole family.
“As important as it is to have the support for youth, we want to make sure their family feels supported as well. Because the whole family is going through a transition," Pepura points out. “Because this is not a negative thing, this is a positive thing. Having youth that are coming to you and being able to trust you.”
And that’s where the layers begin to fall away.
"This generation is very special in that they talk about mental health, they know themselves better than most generations it seems like, their identities," Pepura notes.
And that knowledge can -- and will -- save lives.
“I noticed that a lot of sixth graders were a lot more open, and out with themselves, and I'm sure that's something that I've done," the Colors+ member remembers. "Because I’m like, 'Hey, this is who I am, I exist and I don’t care what you say.' And its great because I'm sure that my energy has reflected off onto the sixth graders and said if this person is comfortable, I can be comfortable, too.”
If you are in need of such comradery, Colors+ has plenty of upcoming events.
- Friday, July 2, 6:30-7:30 p.m.: Family Meetup for Transgender and Gender expansive youth ages 12 and under and their family members. Bain Picnic Pavilion in Fairview Park
- Friday-Sunday, July 30 - Aug. 1: Fairview Park Summerfest.
- Friday, Aug. 6, 6:30-7:30 p.m.: Family Meetup for Transgender and Gender expansive youth ages 12 and under and their family members. Bain Picnic Pavilion in Fairview Park.
- Saturday, Aug. 7: CycleBar Crocker Park Charity Ride for Colors+.
- Painting with all the Colors+, One Hope Wine fundraising event. Fundraiser now through Aug. 21. 10% of all sales donated to Colors+
WEEKLY PROGRAMMING: (virtual for now)
Tuesdays, 4-5 p.m.: TransYou for transgender and gender expansive youth ages 11-20.
Wednesdays, 5:30-7 p.m.: Connections Drop-In for LGBTQ+ youth and allies ages 11-19.
Every other Saturday, 12-3 p.m.: Colors+ Dungeons and Dragons.
For more information, check out Colors+ on social media or email at email@example.com.