The Boys & Girls Club introduces new LGBTQ Youth Initiative

The Boys & Girls Club creates 'safe zone' for LGBTQ youth

Laura Johnson said she knew her son, Nate Harriss, was a little different at a young age.

"He was a little bit effeminate and just enjoyed things that girls enjoyed as well as driving on the tractor with his dad. So he was just a little bit of everybody."

Nate said when he was younger he would play in his mother's makeup. "I used to go into her closet and take out her heels and dresses and put them on."

Harriss said he began feeling attracted to boys at the age of 10. When he turned 14-years-old, he came out to his mother.

"Nate baked me a cookie cake and wrote on it in frosting 'I'm gay' and gave it to me and we had cookie cake," said Johnson.

"It's unfortunate that he had to feel like he had to come out because heterosexual children don't come out."

Now a high school freshman Nate is the youth leader of the Boys and Girls Club new LGBTQ Youth Initiative.

Nate said, "this program is all about love and being who you are."

The LGBTQ group at Coe College is partnering with the club to provide mentors. "I think its really important to have someone you could look up to," a Coe Alliance member Kassy Perez Munoz.

"I hope that this program gives people a sense of LGBTQ community. I hope that they get a sense of we're not looking for labels," said The Boys & Girls Club Director of programming and Outreach Lori Ampey.

"We're looking for a sense of inclusion."

"I think that this program has a lot of potentials to go very far," said Harriss.

The LGBTQ Youth Initiative is meant to exclude titles and make all children and teens feel included.

The initiative will have its first meeting on November 8, 2017, at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 361 17th St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403.

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