‘These are my people. They understand.’ Nonprofit provides support for LGBTQ+ young adults

A Monmouth County nonprofit helps provide support to young adults in the LGBTQ+ community.
Project REAL helps its clients get social and stay safe.
“At 19, my family wasn’t accepting of me being gay. I wasn’t necessarily kicked out, but I was told I couldn’t live there anymore,” says Bobby Lowry, of Neptune.
Now at age 28, Lowry says that he has a home and a family who does accept him for who he is – a family that he found at Project REAL six years ago.
“It was like a light bulb went off in my head. These are my people, they understand what I’m going through,” he says.
Lowry now works for Project REAL, which stands for Real Empowerment on All Levels. The group supports young adults ages 18-29. It is part of Prevention Resources Network, a state-funded organization working to curb HIV transmission. Project REAL does play a big part of that with sexual health advocacy, education and resources.
But the group says that its main focus is a social one.
“We provide a community center for LGBT adults who need a safe space if home life isn’t accepting or if they just want to meet other like-minded people,” says community outreach health educator Arthur Ayala.
There are “drop-in hours” during which young adults can hang out, relax and talk – as well as organized events such as art, game and movie nights.
The indoor space has been closed to gatherings and large groups because of the pandemic. Some of the gatherings have had to be held virtually.
There are also outdoor events. They hope to have more people back inside the space later this summer.
More information about Project REAL can be found on the group’s website.