Connor’s sense of responsibility to his community traces back to his experiences growing up as a young gay man in the United States. As a young child, Connor lived a privileged life, having the resources he needed to live a “normal life.” As Connor grew up, though, he felt different, and soon Connor’s difference became clear to others as members of his community began to treat him differently. Unlike so many others, however, Connor had a supportive family to help him overcome the barriers gay men must overcome in the United States.
Connor engages in his community because of the people that do not have the support network that he did growing up. In August 2013, he began volunteering at the Oasis Center for Students of Stonewall and Just Us, programs serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students in Middle Tennessee. Connor is still an active volunteer at the Oasis Center, and in his time there has served as a mentor, has written program curriculum, and has advised camp administration.
At the same time, Connor’s volunteer interests began to change in Spring 2015. During his time at the Oasis Center and beyond, Connor saw LGBT young people with whom he worked interacting with the juvenile “justice” system at an alarming rate. Connor began to try to understand why, and, in Spring 2015, proposed a summer project to document the experiences of young people in the Tennessee prison system.
For Connor, it has been surreal to live through one of the most radical periods of change for gay men in the United States. For Connor, it is a privilege to see such a revolution as so many others, within the LGBT community and beyond, suffer. In his life, Connor hopes to create justice in partnership with those who are consistently denied justice. After graduation in May 2016, Connor hopes to attend law school and to become an advocate in the courtroom.