Florida teenager Brooklyn Owen (formally known as Seth Owen) was thrust into the national limelight after her story about the challenges she faced as a young queer person went viral. First, her religiously-devout parents forced her into “conversion therapy” that aimed to turn her straight. Then, in her senior year of high school, she was forced to move out so she was homeless and couch surfing with friends. Yet during all this, Brooklyn maintained a 4.61 GPA, graduated from her Jacksonville FL high school as co-valedictorian, and was accepted to Georgetown University.
But without her parent’s support, Brooklyn’s dream of college was almost cut short, until a former teacher stepped in and started a GoFundMe campaign to cover Brooklyn's tuition. Her story went viral and the campaign closed off at over $141,000. An appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show garnered even more support (including a $25,000 donation).
Now Brooklyn is paying it forward. She decided to use the extra money raised to start Unbroken Horizons, an inclusive scholarship foundation that aims to tackle inequity in education, beginning by offering scholarships to LGBTQ+ youth of color. As Brooklyn told Teen Vogue, “it was important that the foundation prioritize not only LGBTQ+ youth who are at an elevated risk for homelessness, often due to family rejection, but also young people of color who find themselves at the intersections of discrimination.” Unbroken Horizons supports not only LGBTQ+ youth heading to college but also to career, technical and vocational schools. In recognition of Brooklyn’s journey, she was named to the 2018 OUT100 by Out Magazine.
Today Brooklyn is an undergraduate student at Georgetown University where she plans to double-major in Government and African American Studies. She is also a Youth Ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign and an intern in Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy’s Washington D.C. office. As part of SpeakOut, she hopes to inspire others with her story of resiliency and finding support to overcome what once seemed like insurmountable obstacles.