When we first set out to raise money for an LGBTQ+ youth organization in Birmingham, Alabama, none of us could have predicted the radical support that the San Francisco Bay community cast. With just 250 people in attendance at the Gayla to support the Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC), we raised $127,000. Through the heroic work of the MCAC’s staff, Amanda Keller and Lauren Jacobs, the Magic City Acceptance Homes Project, a venture in which blueprints were drawn years ago, but lacked the financial support, was finally made a reality. It was time for us to see firsthand what the MCAC was all about and if the staff was in fact, real-life unicorns.
Birmingham seemingly pops out of nowhere. One minute you’re in the country and the next, an industrial city is on the horizon. Birmingham is known as the Magic City because of the rapidity in which it grew in the manufacturing age. We pulled off the interstate and found ourselves in front of an unassuming and unmarked concrete building. There was a small sign on the door inviting us into the MCAC and the Magic City Wellness Center, but you might have missed it if you weren’t looking for it. The unadorned exterior is contradictory to what we found inside. From a stocked fridge with beverages and snacks for the youth to have while they’re visiting or to take home with them, to a reading room with incredibly informative books about being LGBTQ+, to an arts and crafts room, to an HIV/STD testing room, our eyes were wide. The walls of the MCAC were constructed with love and perseverance and fortified with community.
We soon realized that later that evening, the youth would be filling the center to attend Queer Homecoming, where dreams are obviously made from. Steph and I opened the doors to the MCAC and entered into what seemed an entirely different world. The room was full of magic. It was as if Kesha herself had glitter blasted everything and everyone in attendance. From ages 11 to 24, this group of admirable people showed us their true colors. Which were obviously rainbows. LOTS of them. We danced, laughed, cried, and shared stories. Some of the youth traveled for over an hour to attend the dance, telling us they’re from a one stoplight town and are living with a relative because their parents threw them out. The MCAC was the only place they felt truly at home – and many of them never wanted to leave. We didn’t either. It’s not often you find yourself in a position that is absent of judgement, but the MCAC is that place. We feel incredible lucky to have been connected with them and can’t wait to see what the future holds. A few highlights of the Magic City Acceptance Homes projects that we thought were rad: a Transgender Identification Card Printer that supplies all LGBTQ+ youth within Jefferson County an ID that correctly names a youth’s pronouns and sex (something that the police department has been trained on – huge!); the recruitment of at least five families to start fostering LGBTQ+ youth by the end of this week; and a full-time social worker to run this program for a minimum of two years (thanks to all o and a full-time, experienced social worker to run this program for a minimum of two years (thanks to all of your support).