A young man recently found support in his community during a difficult time of coming out to his family and friends, and now wants to share that support with other LGBTQ people in the area through a group he has called ‘Will & Grace’.
Jaden Rajah came out to members of his family in November and was met with relief when he was given acceptance and grace. He received the same response when he came out to a group of friends. Over the last six months, he has reflected on how he can share this acceptance with other young people in the area.
His response is Will & Grace – a new group that will meet regularly to develop a close community of support for LGBTQ community members and their supporters.
“I know what it’s like to struggle as a pre-teen, or as a teenager. I even understand denying it and using my anger to hide it. Coming from a small town was hard. When I was in high school, I knew right away. I knew there were teachers that would support me, and accept me and even protect me and let me be myself,” Rajah said.
“Then I started thinking about my other classmates and the people that come from even smaller towns or wherever that don’t have that support. In college, I knew I needed to do something. When I turned 21, I went for it.”
Rajah said the support he received was what finally gave him the push to begin the group that he’d been contemplating starting.
“It’s one thing to be supported but it’s another thing to give support. It’s a humbling experience. I felt that I have to give support to other teens, and that’s why I decided to start Will & Grace – to give back the support that I’ve gotten in the last six months,” he said.
“It is named after the show, but also we have the free will to be who we are, and we have to love ourselves with grace. The people that love us, and support and accept us also show us grace – that’s why I chose the name I did for the group.”
The group had their first meeting on May 24th and Rajah said the response was very good. He said it was a small group, of nearly 10 people but they had good conversation and he feels good about looking to the future of the group.
“The first meeting actually went very well in the sense that it was positive and it was a good group of communication. The conversation flowed. I let people voice their feedback, we played some games to get to know each other. The adult support had some very good questions to me – just for advice on how to be supportive,” Rajah.
“What I really want this group to be is a safe place with good community building. I want it to be a place of salvation because all of these teens want acceptance. Even though they might have their parents or teachers, sometimes it can be hard to find friends who are accepting right off the bat.”