by Matthew Cardinale
"Exciting is one word, " to describe the day Maya Marcel-Keyes officially came out of the closet at an Equality Maryland Rally, says Maya, 19, in a phone interview for the progressive news community. "Chaotic is another. "
"I 'm not used to getting all the attention, except for a couple weeks in my father 's campaign " continues Maya, whose father, Alan Keyes, garnered national publicity for his extreme mega-capitalist and fundamentalist views in a U.S. Senate race won by now-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).
Alan Keyes had drawn controversy during the Senate race for supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, supporting private schools and school prayer, calling for the integration of church and state, and among other things, favoring a national sales tax to replace the "failed socialist experiment " known as the income tax.
Maya announced that she was getting kicked out of her house by her parents on her weblog a couple weeks ago. The blog is available at:
She had resigned to being homeless and putting off her dream of attending college when her parents determined they would withhold all forms of support due to behaviors they described as "hedonism " and "supporting the enemy. "
The Point Foundation (TPF), a national scholarship organization for gay and lesbian youth who face unique obstacles, contacted Maya late last week to offer her a special scholarship in addition to the multiple scholarships TPF is to award to applicants this year.
"I 'll be starting Brown University [in Providence, Rhode Island] in the fall, " Maya says. She says she 's inclined to major in Political Science.
"That 's what I 'm leaning towards. "
The physical resemblance between Maya and her father is stunning. See the pictures juxtaposed at:
http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42867 . But the ideological postures of parent and child could not be more different.
Maya is a self-described "anarchist " with leftist social and political-economic views.
"I actually voted for Nader in this past election, " she notes. "I 'm really an anarchist, but I felt this was an election that needed to be voted in. "
Maya wasn 't always interested in politics, she says, but developed an interest in recent years.
"I started getting interested in high school. I grew up in a political family. I always knew about politics but it wasn 't until I got into high school that I got into it for myself. I started reading the newspaper more and having more viewpoints, " she says.
"Basically, I got more viewpoints [reading the paper] than those I was exposed to at home all the time, " she explains, adding, "I had a really conservative home and went to a conservative school. It was a Catholic private school. "
Yesterday in Maryland, Monday, February 14, 2005, Maya spoke to a huge rally about not only her personal story, but how the experiences have shaped her vision of helping the homeless.
The rally was in front of the Maryland State House to coincide with a national lobby day, and included Judy Sheppard (mother of Matthew
Sheppard) and the Executive Director of the Sheppard Foundation as well.
She was interviewed on CNN and has also enjoyed recent coverage on CBS.com and in The Advocate Magazine.
"I had spoken [in the rally] about queer kids who are homeless and the homeless youth problem. Did you know 40% of street kids are GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender]? It 's a problem that doesn 't get much attention, " says Maya.
"I 've seen a lot of friends who were queer who 've been kicked out because they 're gay. And what these kids go through makes me want to do something to help, " she resolves.
Not all homeless homosexual youth are as lucky as Maya, though. She reported the sad news that one of her friends who had been kicked out of their house by their parents had recently passed away due to anorexia.
At first, Maya wasn 't sure whether she 'd still be prepared emotionally for speaking at the rally, but apparently saw a greater good in creating
awareness for glbt street youth. The statehouse event had been setting
the nation 's PR rooms abuzz for weeks. The details concerning Maya and the event had been kept under tight wraps, and she 's been reticent about speaking with the press mostly.
Meanwhile, Maya 's life is still turbulent. "I 'm still looking for a place to live, " she says. "For school, I had resigned not to go to Brown [University] and I was going to have to work. I 've been looking forward to going to school for a long, long time. My parents had been planning on paying tuition, so when they say they wouldn 't, I couldn 't get financial aid either, because my parents make too much money for me to qualify for financial aid. "
Maya these days is currently residing with individuals affiliated with PFLAG, or Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays. She was able to keep a bag of her belongings at a friend 's house. She 's been using library computers to communicate.
Coming out of the closet to her parents was more of a process, however, than an event, she recalls. "My parents have known I was queer for a couple of years now. They were in denial about it. They thought I was just queer in a phase. And after a while they said, we can 't support the decisions you 're making. It 's not just that I was queer that was a problem, but that I was willing to talk about it. "
One of her friends told her about The Point Foundation after her parents cut resources off, she says. "It was ironic. I had started filling out the application and then I got a call. TPF had tracked me down through Dan Furmansky, the leader of Equality Maryland. "
"This is a sadly common and a very real example of why The Point Foundation scholarships are necessary, " said Vance Lancaster, Executive Director of the Foundation, in a press release. "It is at times like these that we feel compelled to go outside the bounds of our standard scholarship process and provide financial and emotional support to students in severe crisis situations. "
Last month, for example, The Point Foundation provided support for James Barnett, of Dallas, Texas, who had been expelled by his Christian high school for being homosexual.
"I thank the Point Foundation for their support at this critical time in my life, " Maya said in a recent statement for the Foundation. "I know my situation is not a unique one, and my hope is that queer young people in similar situations can hear my story and know that there are people and organizations that will support them in times of need."
In the long-term, Maya says she wants to be a leader in helping homeless youth. "For years I've wanted to start an LGBTQ youth center, with a focus especially on homeless kids... but especially I think it's important to find some way to get kids access to proper healthcare, physical and mental, " she says.
Matthew Cardinale is a freelance writer, advocate, and graduate student in sociology and political science, and is also a Point Scholar. Matthew 's writing has appeared in The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Advocate Magazine, the Berkeley Daily Planet, and Shelterforce Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.