LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Gabriell Rush

By : Jeremy Williams
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24 | Bisexual | She/Her/Hers

Gabriell experienced homelessness at the age of 20. She was involved in a domestic violence situation and even though she had nowhere to go she knew she couldn’t stay there.

“I was in a transitional housing program with another youth-related homeless group but I aged out when I turned 21,” Gabriell says. “By that time I wasn’t getting anymore services and I was not ready to be out on my own, I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have a stable job. I was dealing with depression, so someone told me to go to Zebra Coalition.”

Gabriell went to Zebra in 2017, where she was able to get her GED. She had been forced to drop out of school at age 14, and was able to live openly and authentically. The help she received from Zebra Coalition led her to start advocating for the youth organization herself.

“I realized early on in my homelessness that I didn’t want to see someone like myself have to go through that,” Gabriell says. “Homelessness is something that is 100% avoidable and I just wanted to get out there and advocate for Zebra. They helped me so much and I want to jump at any opportunity to talk about what they do in the community and the experience of what it is like to be LGBTQ and homeless and having this stigma on you.”

Gabriell works on a board called the Youth Action Society as a peer mentor. It’s in that capacity that she advises LGBTQ youth who have been through similar situations that she has on services and programs available to them through the Zebra Coalition.

She is also a Public Ally through the Orlando chapter of AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps’ Public Ally program identifies diverse young adults and prepares them for leadership roles with nonprofit apprenticeships, mentoring, coaching and continual self-reflection. Gabriell is a Public Ally for Embrace Families, a Central Florida child welfare organization supporting the health and well-being of children through foster care, adoption and mentoring.

Along with giving back to the community that helped her when she needed it, she is also discovering new passions like art and painting, but her real passion is the work she gets to do now.

“I get to give a voice to someone who is going through what I went through and help give them access to what I didn’t have,” Gabriell says. “There is hope and there are resources. Live in your truth and focus on finding a space for yourself where you don’t have to just survive.”

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