LGBTQ Under 40 – Makeda Lacking

Photo courtesy of Makeda Lacking
Photo courtesy of Makeda Lacking

Makeda Lacking is a Site Manager at the Brooklyn Park branch of Avenues for Homeless Youth, a promotion that she earned in February of this year. She has always been passionate about her work and is driven to ensure that everyone gets the attention and resources that they need. “My job allows me to be the one person in a youth’s life who is here to hear them and give them the tools to heal themselves!”

“I was once a youth experiencing homelessness,” Makeda says. Initially, she stayed at The Bridge, where they attempted to reconcile Makeda with her family. Unfortunately, reconciliation did not work. “My home was not a safe place anymore due to my sexuality in an Islamic household,” Makeda explains. 

Makeda moved to Avenues For Youth and when she was 18 she left for college. “I told the staff I would…be back to work there.” She made good on her promise. Years later she stopped by Avenues for Youth on her lunch break to say hello. “It just so happened that…they were hiring!!! So I applied and the rest is history.”

Case management is fulfilling for Makeda. “[This job] allows for my own growth and flourishing,” says Makeda, “My job helps me see the strength in human vulnerability and to always choose kindness as your first guide.”

When we told Makeda that she was being recognized by Lavender she was excited because Lavender Magazine was part of her journey with her queerness. One of her high school English teachers introduced Makeda to Lavender Magazine when she was in eleventh grade. She remembers that it was “at a point in life when I was learning to accept my sexuality openly.”

This is why Lavender recognizes people like Makeda every year. Just like Makeda was inspired by the people she found on the pages of Lavender Magazine when she was a teenager, we know that learning about Makeda and her work in our communities will inspire the next generation. “With Lavender Magazine I…saw my own community in a flourishing and colorful capacity upon pages [and I could] observe, feel, and know that without a doubt I will always have a community…Lavender showed me I can overcome adversity, have PRIDE, start a family, and live life to the fullest,” Makeda says.

Makeda’s grandmother gave her a piece of advice that she’s never forgotten. Makeda was depressed, had just dropped out of college, and had nowhere to live. Her grandmother drove to Minnesota, got a hotel room, and stayed with her for three days. “Every day I cried and slept but on the third day my grandmother…made me promise that I wouldn’t hold failure as my only companion,” Makeda says, “Her next words always stuck with me: ‘Be strong enough to walk away from places, people, and sometimes dreams that you are not able to accomplish right now so that you are mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared for the Blessings you deserve!’” 

“I stand by those words and am living proof of their truth.”

Lavender Magazine is fortunate to add Makeda Lacking to our 2022 LGBTQ Under40 list. 

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