These Michigan LGBTQ+ Teens Created This Pride Shirt To Represent Their Chosen Queer Family

The youth group at the LGBTQ+ Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale has, for the second year in a row, designed a t-shirt for sale. All proceeds from the tee, priced at $35-40, are donated to the youth group.

Justin Bettcher, Affirmation’s community engagement manager, said the group worked to design something fun, colorful and non-traditional. “Young people expressed their desire for the design to be inclusive,” Bettcher said. “So I kind of sat down and let them give all their ideas.”

After brainstorming over Zoom calls, the group incorporated several ideas into the final design. “I liked that we were able to create it together and come up with ideas,” said Tia Campbell, 15. “I really wanted the tree on it. I thought that was cute.”

Anthony Pete models the new shirt.

The concept for the tree is the creation of 15-year-old Anthony Pete. “I said, ‘How about we do a tree design? and the rest of the band really accepted,” Pete said. “A close second was that we were going to do a cat with a band-aid on it, but the band-aid didn’t end up looking good. So we went with the tree.

Bettcher said the tree had several meanings. “Tia said it showed growth,” he said. “Someone else said, ‘It’s a family tree since we’re all chosen family.’ It was great to see all the young people coming together and to see everyone reacting positively to the design.

Pete says responses to the design outside of the band have also been favourable. “I don’t regret anything about design in general,” he said. “I’m very proud to wear it at home or away. People have given me compliments on it – I love it.

Campbell adds that the black fabric is “extremely comfortable” and “breathable.” “Honestly, I love it,” she said. “It’s perfect for the summer.”

Finn Sasha models the new shirt.

Finn Sasha, 16, only recently joined the program and was not there for the design process. Still, he said he was satisfied with the results. “When I got it and looked at the colors, I loved it,” he said.

The three young people say that the center’s youth program is a blessing and beneficial to them.

Tia Campbell models the new shirt.

“I’m coming over two years now,” Campbell said. “I love the community and I love learning different things…things that are really useful, that will impact me at some point.”

Sasha, the beginner, agreed. “It’s only been a few weeks so far but honestly I feel more welcome than anywhere else,” he said. “Before I went, I didn’t really know anyone my age who was taking testosterone or had the experience I had. But I met people and I felt so safe, like I was part of something.

Pete said the youth group was a lifesaver for him. Identifying as an extrovert, Pete said he really enjoys talking to people his own age.

“So just being able to access the computer and look forward to talking to other young people and learning things that we will need in our future adult life is great,” he said. declared. “It helps me stay mentally stable without driving me crazy.”

The Affirmations youth group t-shirt is available to purchase at the centre, located at 290 West Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. For hours and more information, visit goaffirmations.org.

Elizabeth J. Harless