Friday, January 28, 2011

Colin Higgins Youth Courage Awards : Nominations due Feb 28

Found out about this today:

The Colin Higgins Foundation is requesting nominations for its annual Colin Higgins Youth Courage Awards honoring LGBTQ activists who demonstrate courage in the face of adversity and discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity with individual grants of $10,000.

Many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirit, Queer and Questioning youth struggle to live and survive in environments where their safety and well-being is constantly threatened - from enduring physical and emotional abuse from family members at home, to being kicked out of their homes once they come out, to confronting bullying, harassment, and physical violence at school. Isolated from family and community, they often find themselves in psychological or physical danger, needing support yet lacking access to positive resources to guide them through this critical time in their lives.

Unlike scholarship opportunities available to youth based on grade point averages or written essays, Colin Higgins Foundation looks to communities across the country to nominate and lift up the LGBTQ youth activists who inspire them and play critical roles in their schools, organizations, and community spaces. We are currently seeking nominations of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirit, Queer and Questioning youth activists (through age 21) who have transformed their experiences with bigotry and discrimination into opportunities to inspire others by taking action, rallying support, building community, and working to change the systems and institutions that impact their lives.

Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award winners receive: an individual grant of $10,000; a trip to New York to be honored at The Trevor Project’s gala in June; and an expense-paid trip to attend the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change presented by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce in 2012.

Online nominations can be made here by 5pm PST
on Mon Feb 28. All questions regarding the awards should be directed to info[@]

Previous Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award recipients' profiles are here.

Ana Lopez is one of the 2006 honorees:

Ana endured a lonely and isolated childhood in East Los Angeles when she was outed at 14. Rejected by her family and friends because of their strong Catholic beliefs and disregarded by her teachers, Ana remembers, “I had no one.” Kicked out of the house at 17 by a father convinced her “bad” example was turning her younger sister gay, Ana coped by “cutting” or self-mutilating herself to “feel pain to numb the other pain I felt.” She attempted suicide at 14 and 16.

She turned her life around through filmmaking and self-expression, following a classroom presentation by Reach LA, a youth media organization. She wrote an article on being queer and attempting suicide that was featured on NPR and has made five documentaries on life in East LA, which have been screened nationally and internationally. Her film interviewing 12 queer students is now being used to train teachers throughout the LA Unified School District.

She founded three programs at Reach LA including: “Queer Youth Nation,” a nationwide survey of LGBT youth which has been screened at LA’s Outfest for the past three years; the “Be an Ally” program, which works in schools to educate teachers and students about queer issues through film “Reel Ghetto Queer,” a workshop to mentor queer youth in filmmaking.

Ana is committed to using her creative skills to build bridges with the straight and queer Latino community and immigrant and non-immigrant communities. Helping to financially support her family, for whom she feels a great deal of responsibility, Ana works full-time doing graphic design for a community health center. Her 21st birthday present to herself was a pillow, a luxury her family could never afford. Her dream is to go to college and to pursue a career in filmmaking and communications.

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