25 | Transgender Male | He/Him/His
Brandon found the Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA) at a point in his life when he needed it the most.
He was homeschooled by his parents and raised in the church. When he finally decided to ask about “the gay thing,” Brandon and his family’s path changed forever.
“[The church] tried to pull me into reparative therapy,” Brandon says. “Since I was a minor at the time they pulled my parents into it and tried to get them to be on their side. When they brought my parents in and said your daughter feels like she should have been born a boy, my dad was like ‘This makes perfect sense.’”
Brandon’s family came together and stepped away from the church, the only community they had known. That is when Brandon’s family found PFLAG.
“When we came to PFLAG we were kind of broken,” Brandon says of his family. “All we had known were the people in church. We went to PFLAG and met some great people and they said to me ‘You should really go to this place called Orlando Youth Alliance,’ they told me it was a youth group and my first thought was ‘Great, I just got kicked out of a youth group.’”
From the first visit to OYA Brandon knew he was home.
“I absolutely fell in love with it,” he says. “OYA was the most instrumental thing to happen to me in my transition. That was the first place I went where I was able to be respected for who I am and have my proper pronouns used.”
Brandon has been involved with OYA for eight years and now serves as a support group facilitator for the organization. OYA CEO Michael Slaymaker even called Brandon the “poster child” for OYA. He was also a speaker at the Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit, an event presented by the City of Orlando in collaboration with local governments and LGBTQ community organizations to empower Central Florida’s LGBTQ youth.
“Because I am an outspoken individual when it comes to my story, I’ve done a lot of speaking engagements for OYA and been a mentor to so many of these kids who have come through,” Brandon says. “To see kids starting T [testosterone shots] for the first time or going through their name change, it is almost like transitioning over again and that excitement of getting to be who you are. It’s so inspiring for me.”