Ruby Noboa is Going Places
Meet Ruby, she’s a seventeen-year-old PeerForward Peer Leader at The Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science. She’s a Bronx native, though you can feel her influence way beyond her neighborhood. In the last couple of years, she’s held a walk-out against gun violence in the Bronx, marched for transwomen of color in Manhattan, and accepted a national LGBTQ Youth award in Los Angeles. There’s no telling where Ruby will go next.
As a college-bound musician, youth activist, and artist, she’s excited to explore what the future holds for her. Her sights are set on a career in politics, but before she starts planning her presidential campaign, she’s committed to making change in her own neighborhood first. Her pledge to help her community was strengthened over the course of her PeerForward workshop at St. John’s University.
“The one thing that PeerForward has taught me is that I can’t do it alone and I’m not alone regardless of where I go,” she said.
“You’ve got to support the people around you, it’s a team effort. I really appreciated that because I used to just want to do stuff alone – because that’s how I truly felt.”
She hopes to create the same kind of support system for future generations of LGBTQ youth. “I’m working on setting up a LGBTQ Youth Center in the Bronx. It’s going to be the first and only one.” Her desire to create a safe space for LGBTQ youth came from overcoming the obstacle of homophobia at her school. “We were having this whole discussion in class about gay issues and people were like ‘well that’s his opinion or that’s her opinion.’ It’s not. It’s nobody’s opinion because it’s my life. You’re talking about my life. My sexuality, yes, isn’t the whole scope of exactly who I am, but it’s a part of me… it influences the way I move throughout the world, the way that people see me, in a really big way.”
Ruby’s activism for LGBTQ youth may have begun in the classroom, but that’s not where it stops. After leading an action for Trans Women of Color at the Women’s March, Ruby was named the 2018 Student Advocate of the Year at the GLSEN Respect Awards. GLSEN is a national organization that aims to make schools safer and more inclusive for LGBT students in the US.
When asked about the award, Ruby spoke with pride and excitement. “When I started really pressing hard on people in school for saying homophobic or transphobic things, it made me feel like I have a lot of work to do. I felt alone in defending my community and calling people out.” Her feelings of isolation did not last, “to see that many people come and support GLSEN and to see how much that they appreciated everything that I had to say and everything that I done, it meant the world. It made me feel less alone.”
Ruby’s resolve to amplify queer and minority voices has only grown, and her PeerForward workshop reminded her why. “When we’re at St. John’s we were all saying it, like ‘it’s weird’ because the programs that we’re usually selected to participate in are predominately white. We were like ‘Wow,’ we’re in a program that’s this dope and this high energy and it’s predominately black and Latino? We got the gold, okay?!”
The next four years will be a journey, but Ruby is fearless. “I know academically, I have a long way to go before I do anything in my actual career, but I want to network and meet as many people as possible. I want us to all come together to make things better. I want to get to a point where people believe we need to unify regardless of how others look, identify, or live their lives. Everyone deserves common decency.” When asked why she chooses to continue advocating and fighting for others, Ruby answered quite simply, “My biggest motto is ‘open the door and hand over the mic.’ That’s why I do what I do.” Ruby Noboa is opening doors for her peers and there’s no telling where she’ll go next.