East Marshall graduate Ben Alley was kicked-out of his house at 16-years old by his Baptist Minister father after Ben told his parents that he is gay.
But it gets better, the small town boy from Le Grand has scholarships to cover almost all his costs at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. Iowa City was recently named one of the gayest cities in America.
Homeless and living independently at 16 required him to take a late shift at Walmart. That or be raised in a home where being gay was considered “right up there with being a child molester.” At age 10 he was told by his mom that he didn’t deserve to live anymore, after she caught him experimenting with a boy the same age.
“I do miss them,” he said at an event honoring him with Matthew Shepard and First Friday Breakfast Club scholarships that are given to GLBT young leaders. “But I’ve learned to cope with that because there’s really nothing I can do.” His parents have since moved back South.