Robert Proffer



Location: Ypsilanti, MI, United States

    Issues Areas:
  • Trans* and Queer Liberation

Campus: Eastern Michigan University - Ypsilanti, MI

Fellowship Class Year: 2007

Blueprint: Eastern Michigan LGBT Student Resources

Fellows at Eastern Michigan created a website for LGBT youth to provide them with resources for coming out, along with general educational information regarding LGBT issues.

Featured Fellow Spotlight

What do you stand for?


I stand for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights, as well as rights for everyone, so I would say I stand for civil rights.


What inspired you to apply for the YP4 fellowship?


I actually had no idea what YP4 was and was nominated by someone who chose to remain anonymous; I still don’t know who they are to this day but I’m grateful because they’re the reason I am involved with YP4! I went to the Summit pretty reluctantly but was instantly impressed, and greatly so, with the opportunities that laid before me with this organization. The Summit was amazing and made me realize what an expansive network I now had access to and was a part of for life.


What were your major struggles and your major successes during the first year of your fellowship?


Within a month after the Summit in 2007 I was offered a promotion to be the student program coordinator at the LGBT center on my campus. I really believe that the training I got at the Summit was instrumental in me being offered this promotion. And even beyond the training, going to the Summit really gave me a huge confidence boost and extraordinary drive, which were evident to all the people I was working with at the resource center.

The only major struggle is coming to terms with the fact that you can’t help everyone all the time… but you still can get a lot done! My strategy is to never take “no” for an answer; just keep at it and you will see results!


What do you hope to accomplish?


A big goal for me is laying the framework for organizing and activism around social justice.Rather than accomplish a lot myself I’d prefer to have the tools and guidelines in place for future generations. I want to instill confidence in others and set them up for success so that they can do the work that I do and believe and know that they are capable. Once I leave university work I want to go work with other youth organizations.


What/who inspires you to do the work you do?


I originally come from a very racist, bigoted community, which may sound like an odd source of motivation but growing up there I knew that I had to change something and do as much as possible to combat those attitudes.


What have you learned from your work so far?


Keep dreaming big — there’s SO much untapped power people can gain if they just gain the confidence and knowledge about how to go about accessing the power.


How can students on other campuses learn from your experience and take action? Do you have advice or resources to share?


As far as resources go, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in training with DECA, which is an educational marketing training program. With DECA I was able to learn more about people and dealing with different types of people.

Also, if you are in Michigan the Triangle Foundation is a great organization. Nationwide, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are both great organizations that are interested in working with youth — check them out!

The best advice I could offer would be, don’t ever give up. You will go through good times and bad times and you just have to know during the bad times that the good ones are just around the corner.