Creating Safe Space for LGBTQ Youth

Elliott Tuck loves getting social media messages from his listeners. His most notable message came from a 12-year-old.  

Elliott Tuck, 2021
Elliott Tuck (ThreeSixty Journalism/Dymanh Chhoun)

“I think a 12-year-old just DM’d me on Instagram saying how much she enjoyed the show,” Tuck said.  

Tuck is the co-host of “Sound Generation” on Listen Up!, a youth radio group in Minneapolis. The 19-year-old got into the world of radio when he volunteered with Campfire Minnesota, an organization helping kids in poverty get into summer programs and become active in their communities. He then began his radio show, which gives people in the LGBTQ community a platform to voice, advocate and educate. 

“I would say me and my co-host are super passionate about it, because it’s more talked about now,” Tuck said. “We try to bring that into light as much as we can, because it’s part of our activism as queer people.” 

As a Black queer man in the media industry, Tuck isn’t discriminatory about whom he invites onto the show. He is open minded and willing to start up a conversation with people who don’t necessarily agree with him.  

“You can have a disagreement with somebody and still respect them,” he said. “We can have appropriate conversations and be cordial with each other without trying to rip each other’s throats out.”  

Tuck is passionate about LGBTQ activism, pride and drag – all topics he covers on his show. 

“We don’t classify activism as ‘you have to have it on a label and have it as an official thing and work for a corporation,’” Tuck said. “If you are actively using your social media platform to speak out against anything, we want to hear you, we want to talk to you.”  

While famous people who are part of the LGBTQ community, such as actors Laverne Cox and Mj Rodriguez, are changing traditional media perceptions, adolescents and young adults act as tomorrow’s leaders by advocating for important issues like the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. Youths are now taking that step in storytelling, and are the ones crafting and delivering that in the media. Tuck is not excluded from that list of youth advocates. 

“I think we tend to turn to our elders or adults for leadership, but we never realized, especially with electronics and stuff, that … younger people who use their platforms, like articles they read on their (Instagram story),” he said. “I would say the youth in general tend to stay pretty educated with everything that’s going on around us. So, I think out of anybody who tells us stories, it should be the youth. Because I feel like there’s some learning that the older generations need to do.” 

As the show gains a following, listeners and fans will definitely have something to take away from Tuck’s inspiring stories and discussions. And that’s his mission.

“When I am putting the computer away, when I’m looking at the script and unplugging the mic, I’m thinking to myself, ‘How did I help somebody who is exactly like me?’” he said. “‘How did I make them feel seen? And how did I help make a change to those who aren’t seen?’ 

“At the end of the day, that’s what I think about, because representation really does matter.”

These reports were created by ThreeSixty Journalism’s summer 2021 News Reporter Academy high school students in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center.