In 1992, I was houseless and 18 years old. Prior, I struggled in high school, being outed by bullies and a lack of support from anyone. I didn’t see other students get that treatment, but I’m sure it existed. The rules in school were dances had to be attended as a “couple”, and the couple had to be opposite genders.
I will forever love ballroom. When I was a teenager, I basically lived at HMI. I found my first Kiki lounge there. I walked “face”. I found community. I found family. Hetrick-Martin saved my life.
Venus Cuffs (She/They)
HMI helped me find a place to live
I am often asked what life was like at Hetrick-Martin, and I say, ‘Picture the most supportive and caring place, throw in the most unique and wholly selfless people, with the most courageous kids.
HMI was my Safe Haven
After coming out as gay, I found a safe haven at HMI. There were times I didn’t live at home and Hetrick-Martin helped me survive. They became the community I needed. HMI always made sure you were taken card, whether it was a warm meal, a metro card, or a place to be fully out and proud. We even had classes to learn how to cook and to grow our own food. I never did end up learning how to keep a plant alive, but I know it takes a village to keep queer young people alive and thriving.
This year, I’m celebrating the season of giving with a $2 donation to HMI for every holiday candle sold. They gave me so much, its only fitting that I give back because it takes a village and we only have each other.