Post submitted by Sula Malina, Children, Youth & Families Program Coordinator
This Black History Month, HRC sat down with Ashton Mota (he/him/his), an HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador from Lowell, Massachusetts, to learn about his experience navigating the intersections of multiple marginalized identities.
Mota, 14, is a proud Black, Dominican-American student and transgender advocate. After sharing his story publicly for the first time in 2018, he founded and leads his school’s GSA and served as co-chair of the Northeast Region Safe Schools Program. He was a strong supporter of the ‘Yes on 3’ Massachusetts campaign for transgender rights.Through his work, Mota is committed to demonstrating the message that trans youth of color are resilient.
What inspired you to become an HRC Youth Ambassador?
What truly inspired me was an absence of representation of LGBTQ advocates of color in mainstream spaces. I believe that the LGBTQ community and our allies need to work together to bring more visibility and a voice to issues impacting LGBTQ youth in marginalized communities.
What has been one highlight of your experience as an HRC Youth Ambassador?
It was definitely being flown out to California to participate in HRC’s annual Time to THRIVE Conference. Having this opportunity to use a national platform to impact anti-discriminatory bills and laws being used to target not only LGBTQ communities but all human beings living in underserved communities is the most important part.
This February, we celebrate Black History Month. Can you tell us what this month means to you as a young, Afro-Latinx, trans person?
Black History Month is important to me as a Latinx, Black, transgender young person of color because it gives me the opportunity to truly honor the achievements of astounding African Americans who have impacted the lives of people of color historically and nationwide. Black History Month also gives me the opportunity to embrace my Black and Latinx identities.
What’s your message to other young LGBTQ folks of color who may not see themselves and their stories represented in mainstream media?
Unfortunately, there are still youth nationwide who have not found their family, let alone their voice. I believe that it is my job to use this platform that HRC has given to me to advocate for those whose voices have become shadows in society and for all those who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I consider myself to be an agent of change, and I have learned that change does not come easy or overnight. Instead, we must actively work to make the world a better, safer place for those who are most vulnerable.
The HRC Foundation Youth Ambassadors are a group of inspiring young people from across the country who show courage in sharing their stories and demonstrate a commitment to speaking out about issues facing LGBTQ youth. As Youth Ambassadors, they represent the HRC Foundation, using their voices to raise awareness about HRC’s youth-focused programs. Learn more here.