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Post submitted by Beth Sherouse, former ACLS Public Fellow, HRC Senior Content Manager

From age 13 to age 20, Christian Ross lived in a variety of foster homes and residential facilities where he was often abused. At 20, he was adopted by an LGBT-affirming family whose love and support changed his life. Still, Christian bears the emotional scars that come with family rejection, as well as years of being let down by adults in the foster care system and being bullied by his peers for his sexual orientation.

Christian describes his adoptive mother as his biggest cheerleader.

“When I came out to her, she said ‘We love you the same.’ That made me feel like I was loved, like I had someone in my corner. No matter who I became, who I loved, she would always be there for me,” says Christian.

Even so, Christian says his past makes him slow to put his faith in anyone but himself.

“I’m trying to make it on my own,” he says, as he explains his recent experiences of homelessness. “It’s hard for me to trust anyone because of my experiences in foster care.”

Despite the adversity he has faced, Christian is hopeful for the future and he’s ready to make a difference in his own community. He’s currently working and saving money to go back to school so that he can help his mom open up a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth in Kansas City.

When he was younger, he started a support group in a residential facility that was shut down by administration, so he realizes how important it is for LGBTQ youth to have their own affirming spaces. “They need to have their own voice,” he said. “We don’t get a chance to speak out.”

Christian also understands the grim realities LGBTQ youth face when they’re rejected by their families – one of his friends, a young gay man, was murdered recently. He sees his peers and younger LGBTQ teens turning to drugs and survival sex work just to feed themselves, but he wants these youth to know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

“There are people who love them,” he said. “They don’t have to feel like they’re alone. They don’t have to turn to drugs and be homeless. There are people here who can help.”

Christian will be joining other HRC Youth Ambassadors at the upcoming Time to THRIVE  conference this February in Portland. For more information on LGBT fostering and adoption, check out HRC Foundation’s All Children, All Families. For information on LGBT youth homelessness, check out the True Colors Fund.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Project will be featuring this year’s Youth Ambassadors in a series of blog posts. These amazing young people were invited to participate in the program because of their courage in sharing their own stories, and their demonstrated commitment to speaking out about issues facing all LGBTQ youth. As youth ambassadors, they will represent the HRC Foundation and help to raise awareness about its youth-focused programs to a wider audience, and add their voices and experiences to many of the Foundation's programs, including All Children, All Families, Welcoming Schools, Youth and Campus Engagement, and the annual Time to THRIVE conference.

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