Editor’s Note: This story comes from our OutLoud Initiative, collecting stories of the LGBTQ community. Kiyan Williams identifies as gender nonconforming and prefers the gender-neutral pronouns “they/them,” rather than “he/him” or “she/her.” StoryCorps will use plural pronouns to refer to Kiyan in this post.

Kiyan Williams (above right) grew up in a rough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey during the 1990s. They excelled in school and eventually left to attend Stanford.

Throughout it all, Kiyan felt isolated and knew from an early age that they weren’t like other kids.


At StoryCorps, Kiyan told their friend Darnell Moore about a time when they were 4 years old, and their family began to notice just how different Kiyan was.

Today, Kiyan works with LGBTQ youth in New York City.

Originally aired December 17, 2014, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Bottom photo: Courtesy of Kiyan Williams.