Growing up, Tyler Oakley didn't know who he could trust. Years before becoming a YouTube sensation, author, and LGBTQ activist, he was a high school freshman who feared how his classmates would react upon learning he was gay. He confided in one friend, and she shared this information with others on the eve of his debut performance in the school musical. It was devastating.
Oakley shares that story as part of the Anytime, Anywhere PSA series announcing AT&T's expanded partnership with The Trevor Project, the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth. As part of the TrevorText and TrevorChat project, young people in need of support can now connect with trained crisis counselors via text and chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"The work The Trevor Project is doing is essential,” says Oakley. “The need is great. That’s why the partnership they’re doing with AT&T is so important.”
Looking back on that incident from high school, Oakley says he definitely would’ve reached out to The Trevor Project had it existed at the time. He describes the services provided under the AT&T partnership as “identity-affirming” and “game-changing.” “It is, without exaggerating, saving lives,” he says.
Fellow Anytime, Anywhere storyteller Kalen Allen, a talent correspondent on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, is similarly aware of the pressures facing LGBTQ teens. When he was in middle school, a letter came to his house telling his mother he was gay. "We're just letting you know you need to take care of it before we do," the anonymous message read. After a second letter came in the mail, Allen became closed-off and withdrawn.
"I just wanted to stay by myself because I didn't know who to trust," Allen says in his Anytime, Anywhere video. "What I wish I would've had was someone to listen."
TrevorText and TrevorChat provides 24/7 access to caring professionals adept at communicating via text or chat. The expansion of the program under the AT&T partnership was tailored specifically to members of Generation Z, who grew up with smartphones and are likely to feel most comfortable communicating in this way. Texting and chatting can be done discreetly, regardless of when and where teens find themselves in need.