I know that it has been a month or so since I have last posted. I am sure if you are reading this you must be asking yourself ”What is Brenner doing with the gays?!” or something similar. When I first started my internship, I only worked on evaluations of True Colors’ mentoring program, but now I am actually working with the mentees. Here is an update:
On July 5th, True Colors started a 6-week summer program called “Queer Academy.” It was I who came up with the name. Basically, Queer Academy is a series of activities Monday-Friday for the mentees in the program. The main goal or desire outcome for this program is to teach these LGBT youth, who mainly come from foster care and group homes, basic job skills. Half of the mentees participating in Queer Academy are actually between the ages of 19 and 21, but because of their lack of work experience while in foster care, they do not have job skills or anything else to write resumes and references pages.
On Mondays, we spend two-three hours at a community garden. After gardening we have “community engay-gement” where we go somewhere in Hartford. Our first trip was to the library so that the mentees could obtain library cards and register to vote. Next week, we will go to the park and play games.
On Tuesdays, we have “Tuesdays at the Movies” and we watch one movie with queer/gay themes. For example, next week we will watch “Paris is Burning” and learn about and discuss the drag ball culture. After the movie, we have Activities Committee where we help the Group Activity Coordinator, Alison Berk, plan mentoring activities.
Finally on Wednesdays, we have “True Voices Live” in the morning, our own TV show on the Hartford Public Access channel. This show is awesome for the mentees, as they are trained in every role of television production. One of the mentees is even applying for a job at the Hartford Public Access, using this show as work experience. After the show, we have “Pride Group” in which we as a group meet with a prominent LGBT activist in Connecticut and interview them about their life story. So far, we have interviewed Florette King, who is the director of UCONN’s Rainbow Center.
Queer Academy is really fun in that as an intern, I can engage in direct work with the youth, being able to teach them about LGBT culture and history. It is also fun and rewarding to plan the Tuesdays at the Movies syllabus and the Pride Group Syllabus. The only challenge is being the ‘adult’ or ‘instructor’ when half of the ‘youth’ are my age. The others are between the age of 17 and 20, so barely younger than I am. The age conflict makes it difficult for the mentees to respect me or my lessons. Nevertheless, I am establishing really nice relationships with everyone and Queer Academy is already becoming a summer success!