October 17, 2014
I've been involved with Free2Be for several years, and have watched the organization grow rapidly, expanding services at a phenomenal rate, especially considering they operate strictly on donations with no government or grant funding. For a time, I volunteered at weekly meetings for LGBTQ young people, and witnessed first hand the affect that acceptance has on those who have been made to feel they are different and somehow less worthy than their classmates. It is no exaggeration to say that lives have been turned around, and literally saved due to the efforts of James Robinson and the staff of volunteers and counselors. No one should face life in the isolation of the closet, feeling they have no hope for the future and no chance of acceptance. Free2Be strives to see that no one, young person or adult, no matter where they may fall along the spectrum of gender identity and/or sexual orientation, faces life alone. This is vital in the South, where those who do not fit the 'norm' are quite often in fear for their lives, and with good reason. Violence is all too common as a means of problem-solving in the region, and must be countered with positive measures on all fronts. The integrity of the executive director permeates the agency, and the staff and volunteers are held to the highest possible standards in providing those positive measures so necessary to the physical and mental health of the LGBTQ South. It is impossible to overstate the impact Free2Be has had on the community in Huntsville and the surrounding areas, or to understate the need for it to continue to expand the services offered.
June 6, 2012
I met James Robinson of GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services at a showing of the movie "For the Bible Tells Me So". I knew immediately I had met an extraordinary man. Here was an articulate, compassionate, honest man, imbued with integrity, unafraid to take a stand for both GLBT rights and faith — a far cry from the images we see so often in the news. As I began to learn more about GLBTAYS, I became even more impressed. Advocacy for GLBT youth is urgently needed when the authority figures in a young person's life may be the very ones who are heaping vitriol upon them. It's a serious problem; from May 1 to May 13 (Mother's Day) ten young people committed suicide after being bullied. Nearly one every day. One of those was 7 years old. These kids need to know beyond a doubt that someone is there for them, that someone will stand between them and those who have targeted them for hatred. James is that someone in our area. I've watched GLBTAYS work tirelessly to support a student bullied by a teacher at a local high school, persevering and determined that things would be made right despite apparent indifference from the school board. I've watched GLBTYAS reach out to the community on behalf of a troubled teen from our area who was in a dangerous home situation. When my own work for the GLBTQ community becomes burdensome, when hope is so fragile a single breath could destroy it, when anger at injustice reddens everything I see, James is there, calm, courageous, constant — always working, always giving, always caring. His is the soul of GLBTAYS, the force that gives it life, and is reflected in its every activity. We need the services that GLBTAYS provides and we need them badly; James ensures we have them. He and the organization have my deepest admiration.
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MY ROLE:General Member of the Public