‘These are my people. They understand.’ Non-profit organization supports young LGBTQ + adults
A Monmouth County nonprofit helps provide support to young adults in the LGBTQ + community.
Project REAL helps clients get social and stay safe.
“At 19, my family didn’t accept that I was gay. I wasn’t necessarily kicked out, but I was told I couldn’t live there anymore, ”says Bobby Lowry of Neptune.
Now at 28, Lowry says he has a home and a family that accepts him for who he is – a family he found at Project REAL six years ago.
“It was like a light bulb had gone on in my head. These are my people, they understand what I’m going through, ”he says.
Lowry now works for Project REAL, which stands for Real Empowerment on All Levels. The group supports young adults aged 18 to 29. He is part of the Prevention Resources Network, a state-funded organization that works to stop the transmission of HIV. Project REAL plays a big role in this area with advocacy, education and resources in sexual health.
But the group says its main focus is social.
“We offer a community center for LGBT adults who need a safe space if family life doesn’t accept them or if they just want to meet other like-minded people,” says Arthur Ayala, health educator community.
There are ‘walk-in hours’ where young adults can kick back, relax and talk – as well as organized events such as art, game and movie nights.
The interior space has been closed to gatherings and large groups due to the pandemic. Some of the gatherings must have been held virtually.
There are also outdoor events. They hope to have more people inside the space later this summer.