I didn’t want to become one of those gay men who did not engage my community, and did not reach out and help kids because of some impending fear of people’s paranoia,” says West. “I really wanted to challenge that, [especially] in [a] climate where there’s often talk about needs for a strong black male figure, I’m as strong as they come.
- Tim’m West for MOSWN.com
Tim’m T. West experienced, first-hand and through its absence, the value of supportive and competent youth advocates as a queer, black kid growing up in Arkansas. From tutoring with East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring program or foundational programming support at SMAAC Youth Center (Oakland) to delivery of HIV prevention talks in Atlanta Public Schools through AID Atlanta, youth advocacy has been the natural passion for filling gaps from his own experience. Tim’m has dedicated over 25 years to marginalized youth who experience barriers to wellness. Nationally, and particularly in urban areas marked by poverty, Tim’m was instrumental in developing public school partnerships through the College Summit, a non-profit organization, poised to dismantle barriers to college access and readiness. There he created curriculum and workshops for the educators of low-income youth in addition to substantial contributions to College Summit’s college essay and life coaching sessions. For as long as his advocacy for low-income and first generation students, Tim’m has been a distinguished advocate for youth and young adults living with HIV, largely informed by his own experience being infected with AIDS at 26 years of age. In additional to launching one of the nation’s first Positive Youth Councils in Oakland, CA, he was pivotal in expanding the reach of Houston’s Fusion Center, a drop-in program for young black gay, bisexual, queer, and same gender loving men. He continued his journey as Director of Youth Services at the Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ community center, by creating measurable outcomes for LGBTQ youth achievement and transformation through "Expect More" programming. Expect More was a program design that created academic, vocational, recreational, and extracurricular concentrations in an affirming setting that was, unfortunately, absent in many schools students attended. A competitive athlete and coach, Tim’m organized and coached a recreational basketball team and was a critical player in launching Darnell Moore and Wade Davis’ “You Belong” basketball camp for Chicago LGBTQ youth in 2013. Tim’m was also instrumental in broadening options for runaway and homeless youth, including his advocacy on a national Technical Experts Group to make transitional living programs more LGBTQ inclusive. Currently, Tim’m is the Senior Managing Director of Teach For America’s LGBTQ Community Initiative. His leadership created the twelve city State of Education in LGBTQ America Conversation Series in 2014 which has given birth to multiple LGBTQ Education Summits since. Through his work at TFA, he supports LGBTQ educators and allies, to advance inclusive classrooms especially where LGBTQ support is challenged or non-existent. The proud parent of Shannon Matesky-- a young actress, performance artist, and teacher-- the greatest testaments to his power as a youth advocate have been the countless youth he has supported who now serve as mentors, coaches, teachers, and youth development workers in more than a dozen US cities.