40 of the Forty: Kiefer

Aug 2015



Kiefer doesn’t like to spend his time idly. He’s a productive kind of guy. And the work he does is of the utmost importance.

Serving others fulfills Kiefer, and he’s good at it! Learn more about Kiefer in his 40 of the Forty interview:

What do you think about when you wake up?

When I’m in my living room and the morning light floods in, I am often left with a sense of awe about how my life turned around. I was tenuously holding on to housing.

What’s your biggest dream?

I am still trying to figure out where exactly I’m going to end up. For a while, I wanted to do service. I want to do therapy. I want to find a way to continue to provide service to people. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to be the adult that I didn’t have when I was 15.

I was a boy scout. I did meals on wheels. I was 12 or 13 before I realized how broken my own home was. I got to college and I came out. Southeast Michigan is a hard place to come out and meet queer folk.

In 2010, we went to National Equality March and I was in a crowd of queer people and there was a big focus on marriage, but also about things that didn’t matter to me. I didn’t fit in with those folks either.

The work that I wanted to do with advocacy was helping low-income, trans folk, people of color. And if I wasn’t doing that, then I wasn’t doing what I wanted.

I started to do service work through Helping Individual People Survive (HIPS) and very quickly realized that it was something that I was good at. I realized that advocacy and policy people, regardless of experience, weren’t good at working with people that were hurt… and I wanted to merge the two.

Advocacy without service is not something that I can conceive of doing.

What is it like to be you?

I don’t even know how to answer that. I guess it’s rewarding to have the opportunities I have. To have been homeless and been through trauma and still have opportunities… To do service provision at this level and to be compensated fairly for it. Also in this position, it’s kind of alienating. There are people in social justice movements who aren’t the best at  interfacing with people’s trauma in a real way. It’s important for me to surround myself with people who have also experienced trauma.

Is there anything else that you want to tell people?

Whatever your situation is, you can get out of it.

I want to take those scars and try to use them to ease the burdens of others.

What fulfills you? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

The 40 of the Forty list gives lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth who have experiences with homelessness and/or housing instability a chance to speak for themselves. The young people on the list were nominated by homeless youth service providers, social workers, educators, individuals, and other folks across the country. Over the course of forty weeks, we’ll be releasing full length interviews with each young person featured on our list. Nominate a young person today!