I was born and raised in Los Angeles—South L.A. to be exact—and yet, unbelievably, I never stepped foot into the Center until three years ago. I heard about the Center, but it wasn’t until I moved to Hollywood that I had the chance to take a tour of it. Wow, I was floored! I didn’t realize all of the life-saving programs and services the Center offered for our community, particularly to youth experiencing homelessness.
I love that the Center not only helps provide youth with emergency shelter and hot meals, but also offers a full range of services—such as GED tutoring, employment services, and college scholarships—aimed to inspire youth to get back on their feet. I am fortunate enough to have been raised by a family who is accepting of me as a gay man. (I knew they would be accepting of me after I witnessed my mom and sister binge watching on a full season of RuPaul’s Drag Race!). But, I realize that many LGBTQ youth around the world aren’t as lucky—and it’s utterly heartbreaking to see them surviving on the streets. That’s why I want to use my prominence on social media to help the Center pursue its mission of helping LGBTQ people thrive because positive energy and having a purpose in life is precisely what I preach to my followers.
My most memorable project benefiting the Center was—I have to admit—one of my earliest experiences when I felt like an adult. In celebration of my 22nd birthday, I hosted a clothing drive benefiting the Center’s youth. I was so nervous about this clothing drive because I didn’t know how many people would show up. More than 150 people showed up at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza! We ended up filling three huge bins with new and gently-used clothes, shoes, bags, and toiletries! Whenever I think of that moment, it fills my heart—and it keeps me pushing to do more for the Center.
When I was asked to host last year’s virtual Models of Pride conference for LGBTQ youth, I was honored to do it because I am fierce, fabulous, free—just like the conference’s theme! But, seriously, it’s because I support the Center to provide safe spaces for LGBTQ youth where they can be themselves, be authentic. Also because, at this very moment, it’s a gamechanger to be a proud gay Black man on social media. For once, people in “the industry” want to listen to me. They want to have conversations with me about my experiences. My entire livelihood is a conversation piece right now. I’m loving it! Let’s keep this conversation going about diversity, equity, and inclusion because I’m pushing for a long-lasting change.
I know change may not happen overnight. So, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable place or space—no matter your age, your identity, your background—I want you to keep looking forward. Don’t be distracted, and don’t be discouraged. Life happens when you try. And if you need a little push to try, there’s no better place to turn to than the Center.
Mac Kahey (a.k.a. MacDoesIt) has nearly 2.3 million subscribers on YouTube.
Follow the 24-year-old influencer on social media @macdoesit