“Randall is the best advocate and friend that a girl could ask for. He has been by our side since I can remember, getting to be the girl that I am. I feel so lucky that he is ‘my’ advocate. My favorite thing about him is that he is really nice to me, and he does a lot to help people.” -Mazy Gilleylen, Youth client and 10 year old transgender girl (St. Louis, MO)
Randall’s journey working with vulnerable queer and trans youth affected by trauma began, in 2001, when he was a homeless gay teenager, himself, in St. Louis. Randall learned to navigate safety and how to survive without family when he was kicked out of his home and his initial Catholic high school by school administration. Soon after, he began working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, where he was asked to be a featured speaker and discuss the Catch-22 of juvenile law, which allowed him and other LGBTQ youth to be systematically homeless, at the Annual ACLU Membership Conference in DC.
In 2003, Randall received a full-ride scholarship to DePaul University in Chicago, he founded Spectrum, the main LGBTQ student organization on campus. A few years later, he helped found Act Out, an activist and organizing LGBTQ student organization on campus focused on anti-oppression projects within LGBTQ communities. Following his work on campus, Randall went on to work help start a homeless LGBTQ youth support group, called “Real Talk,” at the Broadway Youth Center, and worked closely with About Face Youth Theatre and Lambda Legal. During this time, he was featured on the “Growing Up Gay” 2006 episode of The Oprah Show and later awarded the “Youth Impact Award” by the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC).
In 2013, Randall moved back to St. Louis and was hired as the LGBTQ Youth Advocate to build the city’s first funded LGBTQ youth anti-violence program. Most recently, he was recruited to build the first multi-state LGBTQ youth department as the Manager of Youth Services for the Kansas City Anti Violence Project, providing multi-state advocacy directly to LGBTQ youth affected by trauma and violence.
“The fact that he’s been hired in a city in the middle of America to reach out to schools in the heartland about gay youth at risk is a measure of progress. The fact that Safe Connections received more than 200 applications for the job is a sign of progress.” —Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Randall is a true savior, he was there for our family in the darkest part of the storm and he made it his mission to guide us out. I believe that every family needs a ‘Randall’ to help guide a smoother transition, and to just have that educated plan in place. There are often times that I think how grateful that my family and I are for all the amazing work he’s done for our daughter and our family in her transition. Randall is so important to our family, he has done so much in the way of advocacy and training. He has not only trained both of us, but he’s also trained our local schools to be more knowledgeable about the needs of my daughter and those like her. He’s an angel and we’ll forever be grateful.” -Amber and Donte Gilleylen, proud parent of Mazy Gilleylen, a beautiful trans little girl