SAVED BY HATCH
Where do you start when you are asked to describe a program that saved your life? Hatch Youth Services is the oldest LGBTQ youth program in Texas and last year had more than 800 youth in the program. I was one of them.
Life before Hatch
My life was a de-gay camp… I wish I was kidding. On Sundays, my house would turn into a church. As part of their ministry, my mother and stepfather would go into other people’s houses and tell them how to raise their children. They believed that, in order for their kids to be good, they should beat them up. They used the Bible to back it up. “Look at Crimson!” they’d say, “Look how well behaved Crimson is.”
I felt like I was in prison. I would be sitting, and I would actually FEEL the walls closing in. Like my very being was barred. I wrote my mom a 15-page letter explaining how I felt, about my being trans. I’ll never forget. When she read it, she laughed. She told me, “No, you’re not doing this.”
After that things did not go well. I felt desperate… to be myself. I was suffering from depression and PTSD because of what I had been through with my parents. Through CPS, I was able to get counseling, and medicines. But I was still a recluse. I would lock myself in my room and not talk to anyone or do anything. It was terrible. I frequently thought of using my anti-depressants to end my life because I was so stuck.
Life at Hatch
People don’t realize that when you go into Hatch, you’re not going into a program, you’re learning a practice.
You’re learning how to be a better person. You’re learning to manage all your problems. You’re learning about humanity at its core. How to accept yourself.
When I was 17, I moved into an apartment by myself. I had money from my friends. I had money from my birthday. I had food from Hatch. I had socks from Hatch. Anything I needed, Hatch staff was quick to provide. I did the Hatch radio show. You can hear my voice change over the years, as I took hormones and my transition continued.
I remember going to Hatch Prom for the first time. I won Prom Prince. It was amazing. I had never been in a place where I could be myself.
I’ll never forget when one of the Hatch volunteer mentors said to me, “When you first started to come to Hatch, you were hunched over. Your eyes were bugged out and you were looking every which way. You were scared. Now, I’m looking at you and you are a strong, confident young man who is so much happier than you were when you first came in.”
Looking to the Future
I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that Hatch saved my life. It would be the largest understatement that I’ve ever made. Because it did. In so many ways.
Not only did it contribute to the person I am today, but it contributed to a completely different mindset. It contributed to friends and family and people that I would never have been able to meet otherwise. It helped steer my life in a completely different direction.
Without Hatch, I would have given up a long time ago. If not in the worst way imaginable, then I would be working. Every day. All day. Just trying to survive.
There are too many young LGBTQ people who don’t have a safe place to live. Who have to live on friends couches like I did all throughout high school or worse. Hatch finds the youth like me and gives them hope and a family. They connected me to every service available.
Hatch staff convinced me to apply to college. That was hard for me since at the time I did not know where I was going to sleep or where my next meal was coming from. I got in to the University of Houston and received a Pell grant. My first year was tough, but when my Hatch mentor found out I was struggling financially he helped me interview and win a full ride scholarship for four years.
I am currently a sophomore at the University of Houston. Once I get my degree, I want to get my teaching certificate. I want to find the best way to help people the way Hatch helped me.
I’ve learned that sharing my story and giving advice helps, not only me, but other people at Hatch. And I feel like maybe it’s something I can do to help people outside of Hatch too. The other thing I can do is inspire you to be brave and to reach out to the LGBTQ youth in your life and let them know you support them. Also find a program like Hatch Youth Services and support it. If there is not one near you, start one. I was lucky that there were people here for me, but too many youths like me have no one they can turn to for help.
Source: Born This Way Foundation https://bornthisway.foundation/saved-by-hatch/
This month, as a continuation of #KickOffForKindness and #KindLI experience in Houston, we are proud to share a blog from Crimson Jordan, a member of the LGBTQ youth community who was saved by Hatch Youth. Hatch Youth serves as a supportive resource for young LGBTQ people.