When Darid Prom walked into The Attic at 16, it was like heaven. The space was warm and welcoming, he said, offered food, provided tokens and most important a space to learn and advocate for youth in the LGBTQ+ community.
“The most memorable experience is being able to meet so many like-minded folks,” said Prom, a queer youth. “Seeing how confident they are with their identity really inspired me.”
Prom, now 18, is one of 1,000 LGBTQ+ youth, ages 14 to 23, who find support and inspiration at The Attic Youth Center in Center City. Founded in 1993 by by Carrie Jacobs, the nonprofit center – the only LGBTQ+ youth space in Philadelphia – also provides therapy sessions for teens and youth under the age of 14.
Jacobs, now the executive director, started The Attic as a small support group in an attic because she wanted a place for “healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community,” that promoted the acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth in society.
Besides providing a safe space and therapy for LGBTQ+ teens, The Attic’s Bryson Institute, sends LGBTQ+ members to train schools, churches, businesses and others about the LGBTQ+ community, including things like the proper pronouns to use when addressing its members.
The Attic currently operates on an annual budget of $1 million and is funded through private donors, small donations, and grants.
Hanna Garrity, 29, has been a job developer and life coach at The Attic for three years and sees it as a space where youth wear, talk and dress how they want” — a place that is “propping youth up to help them scream.”
“ The Attic is vibrant and loud. The Attic is a family of youth that is going on 25 years old,” she said.
Imajay Harvey, a freshman at Science Leadership Academy, participates in The Attic’s youth groups.
The Attic “shows me no matter what I go through or what relationship I am in to always choose myself,” he said, adding that the relationship group is his favorite.
Most important, supporters said The Attic has shaped and changed lives through students like Prom and others, who are becoming the face of the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement in America.
Prom advocates and educates others on the importance of intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community.
His peer Manny Pabron,18, a 2018 Outfest Award winner, uses social media to bring awareness to trans rights in the world.
Both teens also work with local and national organizations such as the Mazzoni Center and Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network in creating more inclusive schools, work that helped Prom win the 2018 Inspiration Award from GLSEN.
” I don’t consider myself an activist,” Prom said. “I think the work I’m doing is something everyone should be doing.
“LGBTQ+ rights are intersectional rights,” Prom added.” We have to recognize our privileges and use them to help fight alongside marginalized groups!”