Today we are joined by Teen Talk Hotline founder Blake Newborn!
Blake Newborn is an advocate of the LGBTQ+ community and founded the non-profit organization Teen Talk Hotline at the age of 15 as a result of being bullied for his sexuality. At the moment the hotline is used to direct young individuals towards resources in times of crisis. He hopes that in time his initiative will be able to provide a safe space for the youth. We got a chance to sit down and have him share his story and his thoughts on the epidemics of bullying, suicide, and suicide prevention.
Why do conversations matter to you?
Having a conversation allows your voice to be heard whether it is an easy or difficult conversation. They can make a significant impact on someone’s life, including yours and mine. They have the ability to shape us into the people we are today.
What is the Teen Talk Hotline? How did you start it and what is your vision of what you hope to accomplish with your platform?
When I was 15 years old, I was being bullied for coming out of the closet. Coming out of the closet during such a young age, when I was still discovering everything about myself, is hard enough but being bullied for who I was made it more difficult for me to have a voice. I felt as if I was silenced because of the ongoing disapproval of the LGBTQ+ community. I was scared but instead of allowing my fear to get the best of me I redirected my energy elsewhere.
That’s when I launched Teen Talk Hotline: A platform designed to help, inspire, and empower youth by initiating conversations and encouraging them to speak up about important topics that they face. I used my platform to gain a voice for myself and now I want to be able to help others do the same. Starting this organization has been a difficult journey and at times it’s still not easy but every day I learn something that I didn’t know before. There are days, when all I want to do is stop everything I am doing but somehow, I’m always lead right back to it. It’s like I know I was meant to do this - to make sure other teenagers never feel how I felt.
How did you find your voice and how can other Gen Z-ers find theirs?
Finding my voice wasn’t as easy as I would have liked it to be but I found my voice through advocating for what I believe in. If you believe in something, you best make sure the world knows it! Without knowing what you stand for, you won't ever have a voice. My advice to anyone who is struggling to find their voice is to not blindly follow other people just because it’s easy to do so. You need to strike down on all the barriers and ask yourself: “What world do I want to live in?” Once you know, lead the way to your answer. That is when you know you found your voice.
How can we start more conversations about mental health, bullying, and suicide prevention?
Talking about mental health, bullying, or suicide prevention is difficult for some people. It may be uncomfortable but it needs to be openly talked about to reduce stigma and raise awareness of how it can affect someone’s life. We have come a long way in openly talking about these topics over the years but we have so much more work left to do. Having more conversations about mental health, bullying, and suicide prevention can save lives. That should be our mission when we have these conversations so that no one feels like they are alone.
How can our audience, Gen Z-ers/young people, people get involved with all that you're doing?
Teen Talk Hotline is currently looking for more people to get involved with our mission for 2020!
If you would like to get involved or have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org