A story not silenced. She was raised by a single mother in upstate NY. She was a ‘good kid’ and stood out as a great dancer. By age 12, she knew she was gay and became outspoken about her discovery, causing unmanageable friction in the house. In this day and age, there are still parents who just can’t figure out how to accept their children for who they are and build on that uniqueness instead of having that nagging unrelenting feeling that they are ‘not what they imagined.’ What does a child do when she knows she isn’t loved and accepted?  She breaks rules to prove she has power and worth.  In this case, she stole bikes and fought with other teenagers. This single mom working a couple of jobs couldn’t handle any diversion from the well-behaved, grade-passing, obedient child, and moved her to a foster home.

This is a strong-willed child who didn’t accept government and parental demands about where she is to live. So, she ran away, many times. Finally, she asked to be moved to a foster home for gay youth, and this is where the turn in this story begins. Good for Carolyn – ask for what you want and need!

CarolynClarke_akaBoogieOnce she was among young people who understood her and she them, she used this power and emotional stability to build on her unique talents. What a beautiful thing! If only all children had the chance to feel accepted, unconditionally loved, and praised on a regular basis for their unique talents, this world would be a happier, more productive place!

Her success story continues with dancing for people on the subway. My favorite line in the NYTimes article where I read about her, is the sign she displayed while dancing on the subway:   ‘I’m all by myself — please show your love, not your anger.’  Once again, she is asking for what she needs and wants.

Within a couple of months, she joins a dancing crew. Then, another. Then, she starts her own dancing crew! She began getting jobs dancing at birthday parties and bar mitzvahs, and now has a roster of about 35 dancers to call upon. She receives Facebook messages from dancers all over the world sending video auditions for entry to her group.

So, what do we learn from this 20 year old success story? Ask for what you want. Accept children for who they are. Build self-esteem through praising the unique talents in a child.

Her name is Carolynn Clarke AKA Boogie. I’m going to look for her when I next visit Dr. Urken whose office is on Union Square right near where she and her crew, ‘The Raiders of Concrete’ dance.


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