NYer Of The Week: Marc Sophos Gives LGBT Teens A Radio Platform
Stories of bullying and suicides of gay teenagers often make the headlines, but this week's New Yorker is using the media to discuss LGBT youth issues New Yorkers often don't hear. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
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Marc Sophos grew up with feelings of isolation.
"I grew up thinking being gay was the worst thing possible," he says. "At that time, there was almost no media. I felt totally isolated."
Those feelings became Marc Sophos’ catalyst to do something to help others struggling with the loneliness of growing up as a gay youth.
With few media outlets covering LGBT issues, Marc thought his love of radio could be the answer.
"My parents gave me this little transmitter that could broadcast around the block for Christmas the year I was 10," he says. "That was the beginning of the radio station."
Today, Sophos produces OutCasting, what he bills as the only LGBT youth program on public radio in the country.
The show airs on WDFH-FM in the Hudson Valley as well as online and is produced with a team of teenage volunteers.
"The idea of providing a voice to people who don't have a voice or have a voice but have no way to express it is something that gives me a great deal of satisfaction," he says.
"I think a program like that could have helped me when i was struggling with coming out."
Sophos believes there is a lot of misunderstanding of what it means to be LGBT in today's society. Part of the problem, he says, is that news coverage is driven by events of suicides and bullying.
"We hear when a youngster takes his or her life, we see the candlelight vigil, we hear the distraught friends," he says. "But we don't ever really hear what that person's life was like and what were the pressures that led to that act. What does it mean to be an LGBT youth?"
OutCasting seeks to change the mainstream, one show at a time.
"I don't hear the radio speaking about people like me that are normal out teens," says Travis Amiel, a volunteer with OutCasting. "Just talking to people about sex ed and relationships has really helped me.
So, for using the air waves to bring LGBT youth issues to the ears of New Yorkers, Marc Sophos is our New Yorker of the Week.