Amanda Robinson co-founded Real Live Connection to help LGBTQ teens avoid issues she faced as a teen

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KEEPING IT REAL | Amanda Robinson and volunteers enjoy the RLC holiday party. (Courtesy photo)

Jenny Block  | Contributing Writer
nash@dallasvoice.com

At first glance, Amanda Robinson might seem like your typical 30-something: She’s the general manager of 123 Technologies and likes to spend quality time with friends and family when she’s not working.

But the McComb, Miss., native is anything but typical. She’s a powerhouse on the front lines of improving — dare we say saving — the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning teenagers ages 13-19.

Robinson is the co-founder of Real Live Connection (RLC), a non-profit based in Dallas that is dedicated to providing positive development and life-enhancing programs to LGBTQ teens. She also serves on the steering committee of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Family Pride Zone and NTARuPT, where, she says, “I continue to reinforce the rights and interests of LGBTQ teens.”

Dallas Voice sat down this week for a question-and-answer session with Robinson:

Dallas Voice: How did RLC start? Amanda Robinson: I was a troubled teen, trying to figure out what it meant to be a lesbian. As I struggled to figure out where I fit into society, I eventually found my own path as an entrepreneur and started developing humanitarian interests. I cofounded Real Live Connection in 2012 because I wanted to give back to the LGBTQ youth community.

How does it make a difference in our community? Well, I see the community as a web of individuals, all of which have the potential to come into daily contact with LGBTQ teenagers.  However, knowing how to approach and talk to these individuals can be challenging. Therefore, our Safe Space Trainings provide the community with common terminology and stories so you can empathize and identify with these teens, and do your part in the community by aiding these individuals to reach their full potential. Safe Space Training also allows you to create a safe space for teens so that they can feel comfortable being themselves.

From a business perspective, you could be working with this demographic on a daily basis, and how you treat them will determine if they choose to be repeat customers. If you treat them with respect, don’t show any judgment or harassment, and display the safe space sticker, you will not only demonstrate that you are an ally, but it will show you work for a business that cares about them.

For instance, Safe Space can help you know how to handle various situations, such as what to do if you work at the counter at a bank and one of our transgender youth come up to the window with Stan’s ID but in front of you stands Stacy. The transition process can take at least three years before the ID matches the person. How you react to Stacy may impact the way Stacy does business with you in the future. It may impact the way Stacy’s family and friends do business with you.

As a community, it is our responsibility to treat all individuals — regardless of gender, race, orientation, etc. — with respect. No one should feel uncomfortable to be out in public or fear being harassed by strangers or feel unsafe in this world.

Why did you start RLC? I wanted to give LGBTQ youth opportunities and access to resources that I know would have made a world of difference in my life had they been available when I was a teen.

What is one of your favorite Real Live Connection stories? The first year we had Teen Pride, a teen who was having trouble in school came out to the event and was exposed to other teens who were having the same issues. She later approached me with tears in her eyes saying, “I now feel like I can keep living. I no longer have to cut anymore.” That made my heart skip beats, and it was in that moment that I realized how much of an impact RLC can have on just one person, in addition to the community as a whole.

For more information on Real Live Connection, call 469.666.REAL (7325) or email info@rlc365.org. Also Connect with Real Live Connection on Facebook (Real Live Connection) and Twitter (@rlc365) for information on upcoming events and ways to get involved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 16, 2015.