“I came out as being gay and my mom kicked me out,” Christopher Severight says. “She had all my stuff in garbage bags. She was like, ‘You’re not allowed here anymore. Get the fuck out of my place.’”
Severight was 17 years old at the time and living in Edmonton. He went to the city’s youth emergency shelter and phoned an emergency line for child services but, he says, neither agency believed his story. For two months he slept on the street at night, coming to the Pride Centre of Edmonton after school to nap and do homework.
Eventually, he says, he was assigned a social worker and given his own place to live. It was this experience as a ward of the state that made him realize he wanted to be a social worker.
“A lot of the time, I didn’t feel heard,” he says. “It really informed the way I will do my practice in the future.”
Today Severight, 26, is completing his bachelor of social work at the University of Northern British Columbia, and is applying to UNBC’s master of social work program. In 2015 he received a LOUD scholarship from BC’s lesbian and gay business association, which helped pay for school.
“But also the LOUD program maintains contact with the recipients for ongoing support, guidance, encouragement,” he says, noting that this was not the case with his social worker.
“Often when youth transition out of care, they go from a supportive environment to nothing,” he says, “yet we expect them to succeed.”
After school, Severight and his partner plan to move to Terrace, BC, and start a family.
He hopes to mentor queer youth who end up homeless or in care like he did.
“A lot of [LGBT youth] end up not having someone in their corner to advocate for them,” he says.
That’s something Severight hopes to change.
<< Previous: 2014 LOUD recipient Jillian Wedel
>>Next: 2012 LOUD recipient Scott Mackay