The STAR Center features young people from across the country who are making a difference in their communities and demonstrating extraordinary leadership that you need to know about! Help us make sure young people in your community are recognized and valued by nominating someone today!
This month the STAR Center recognizes Joshua Kogut from Oakland,CA.
My name is Joshua, and I live in Oakland, California. I identify as Queer, Trans, mixed race, and disabled. I am a Transitional Age Youth Navigator at the SF LGBT Community Center where I support LGBTQ Youth experiencing homelessness. Simultaneously, I am attending Goddard College for Social Work. I came out as LGBTQ at 15. Within days of my coming out, I learned that Larry King, a 12 year-old queer youth, was killed by their classmates. I responded by starting my high school’s first GSA and facilitating trainings on LGBTQ issues. As a young trans person, I fought my school to use my preferred name, pronouns, and bathrooms but, as the first out trans person at my school, was unsuccessful. However, this advocacy did eventually contribute to institutional changes. After graduating, I moved to Oakland to engage more deeply in community work and leave an emotionally-damaging environment. Here, I’ve grown as a social worker and learned how to better manage and heal my own OCD and PTSD. I began my journey deeply shy and anxious and have developed as an out-and-proud facilitator and youth worker. I’ve led over 75 workshops in the past six years to educate providers on LGBTQ young people. My own mental illness still impact me, but through self-care and gentleness, I am learning how to thrive. My message for other young people: trust yourself, be kind to yourself, and lean on your communities. While things are hard, remember you are wanted and needed, and there are people who love and support you, even if you haven’t met them yet.