The Biden Foundation is collecting testimonials from LGBT youth to showcase what a family’s acceptance means to young people in the community.
Announcing his eponymous foundation’s new campaign As You Are on Aug. 7, former Vice President Joe Biden said in a promotional video the goal is to “highlight the harms of family rejection, and to lift up research, best practices, and personal stories.”
For now, the As You Are campaign is in its discovery phase. The foundation wants young LGBT people to submit their stories online through its site. After asking about preferred pronouns and five words you feel describe you, the campaign has two main questions:
- Tell us about an experience you’ve had with family and community acceptance and/or rejection. How has this experience impacted your life?
- Why is family and community acceptance important to you?
Emily Hecht-McGowan, the Biden Foundation’s director for LGBTQ Equality, said there’s no word limit in submitting answers, so stories can be as long as they need to be.
“Foundation staff will review all stories and will make choices based on stories that best represent the diverse experiences of the entire LGBTQ community,” Hecht-McGowan said. “We will begin sharing stories as early as next week.”
In sharing personal stories with its online and social media — comprising of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — followers, the campaign hopes to “inspire, to create communities, to heal families, and to change the broader culture to ensure a bright future for all LGBTQ young people,” according to a release.
“For now, social media will be the primary source for sharing stories,” Hecht-McGown told SFGN, “but we are considering other avenues as well.”
Front and center in promoting the new campaign is a slew of stars, many of whom actively participate in its programs. Wade Davis, who’s said homophobia kept him in the closet until after his NFL career ended, is helping out.
As You Are is one of two campaigns in the foundation’s arsenal for its Ensuring LGBT Equality pillar, one of seven policy bases the foundation boasts. The pillar has its own 17-member advisory council, including familiar names like Judy Shepard and Cyndi Lauper.
“Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide. And 40% of transgender and gender nonconforming adults report having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, most of them before the age of 25,” said Amit Paley, the newly-minted executive director of the Trevor Project and one of the advisors to the foundation’s LGBT pillar. “That's why it is so important to support LGBTQ youth and let them know that they are not alone.”
In May, the foundation launched its first campaign under the LGBT equality pillar, in conjunction with the YMCA. That campaign also focused on LGBT youth. Unlike the As You Are campaign, the foundation offered online its specific goals in the coming years. In the first year, at certain YMCA locations across the U.S. vetted by the diversity of their members and their locations, the two groups would identify and build “strategies” to better serve local LGBT communities, according to the site. In the second and third years, these programs will be distributed to YMCA locations “nationwide.” To announce that campaign, Biden and YMCA President and CEO Kevin Washington penned an op-ed for CNN in May.
“Today, too many members of the LGBTQ community continue to face discrimination, harassment, rejection and physical violence every day at school, at work, in their neighborhoods and even in their homes,” they wrote. “This crisis is especially severe among youth.”