Lea Brown is the daughter of a lesbian.
“I know first hand what it’s like to be treated differently because of my family,” she said.
“Before COLAGE, I was always proud of my family, but not sure how and where I could articulate this pride. I grew up in a conservative suburb, thinking I was the only kid in the world with a lesbian mom. I had a loving, nurturing home but constantly lived in fear of bullying or harassment. COLAGE helped me find my voice as a proud advocate for our families.”
COLAGE is for children of any age, from youth to adults, who have LGBT parents. Its goal is to encourage people to share their experiences, and to sponsor family activities that can be enjoyed without the fear of feeling different. It focuses on two groups, one for children ages 8-12, and another for those 21 and older.
“We’ve done everything from potlucks, game nights, to field trips and holiday parties. COLAGE can be whatever you need it to be,” Brown said.
Brown, a 24-year-old from Southfield, founded the Detroit Chapter of COLAGE in April 2010 after completing an internship at the COLAGE National Office in San Francisco during her senior year at Central Michigan University. “After those three amazing months in California, I wanted to bring the movement home and make sure that the LGBT families in Metro Detroit had access to COLAGE programming.”
The groups meet at Affirmations, a community center in Ferndale. Events are posted online at http://www.goaffirmations.org.
Brown hopes to raise $250 by her 25th birthday on Feb. 12 to go towards the program. Through the Cause application on Facebook, anyone who wants to contribute can do so by going to Brown’s Birthday Wish page at http://apps.facebook.com/causes/activists/1839233 and making a donation.
“I still get tears in my eyes when I think about my first time at COLAGE Family Week in Provincetown, Mass.,” she said. “I was surrounded by at least 30 other 20-somethings with LGBT parents. When we sat around and shared stories, I felt as though we were stealing the words right out of each other’s mouths … (K)ids all over the country were experiencing the same thoughts, fears, and emotions I’d been having. It was so incredibly validating. COLAGE gave me the community I’d been searching for. I don’t know how I ever lived without it!”