Florida teenager Seth Owen was thrust into the national limelight after his story about the challenges he faced as a young gay man went viral. First, his religiously-devout parents forced him into “conversion therapy” that aimed to turn him straight. Then, in his senior year of high school, he was forced to move out so he was homeless and couch surfing with friends. Yet during all this, Seth maintained a 4.61 GPA, graduated from his Jacksonville FL high school as co-valedictorian, and was accepted to Georgetown University.
But without his parent’s support, Seth’s dream of college was almost cut short, until a former teacher stepped in and started a GoFundMe campaign to cover Seth’s tuition. His 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 Seth is paying it forward. Seth 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 Seth 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 Seth’s journey, he was named to the 2018 OUT100 by Out Magazine.
Today Seth is an undergraduate student at Georgetown University where he plans to double-major in Government and African American Studies. He 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, he hopes to inspire others with his story of resiliency and finding support to overcome what once seemed like insurmountable obstacles.