This feature is part of the ACLU of Florida’s “LGBTQ+ Youth Activist Project” commemorating Pride Month during the month of June. The following is an interview with 20-year-old, Elijah Manley, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, studying political science at Broward College. Also view video at: ACLU of Florida’s
Q: How does your work make our community a more inclusive and open place for everyone, regardless of where they come from, how they identify, or who they love?
A: A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I actually ran for office in 2018. I was one of the youngest people in the country to run for office. I ran for Broward County School Board. I have attended the United Nations twice in one year, with hundreds of other young people from across the planet. We talked about sustainable development goals and issues important to our generation, such as climate change.
“I think I’m a classic example of someone fighting for an inclusive community. All for all of us. I’m African-American. I’m also a gay male and I’m young. In politics, you don’t see that combination a lot.
So, I hope to inspire other young people, regardless of where they come from, to do what is necessary to move this country forward.”
Q: What do you see as the most pressing issue currently affecting LGBTQ youth?
A: There’s a lot of violence in this country toward people in many communities, including African-American community right now, with the rise of white nationalism and racism. And the violence against the LGBTQ community, specifically transgender individuals.
We are definitely facing some very dangerous political times and it’s important that we all use our voice and leverage our voice and our resources to help those who may not be the most fortunate.
Q: What message of encouragement would you like to send to LGBTQ youth who could be lacking the support to thrive in today’s society?
A: For Pride Month, I encourage other young people just like myself to go out there and to keep going, to keep fighting, and to know that there is always a way. Just remember there are millions of people just like you out there who are fighting to make the world a better place so that you can be yourself.
Originally published by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
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