There has been a number of recent questionable fundraising appeals, from the KFC pit bull attack victim’s heartbreaking hoax to the homophobic birthday RSVP that never was, so I automatically become skeptical when I hear someone asking for donations. But 19-year-old University of Pittsburgh student Kate Koenig tells a compelling story. According to Koenig, her parents discovered that she identifies as gay and pansexual last September, after opening her mail. At this point they had already paid for her first semester, and later reluctantly agreed to pay for a second term. Now, due to her “lifestyle,” they are refusing to cover her next academic year, so she has opened a GoFundme page to collect donations.
“My name is Kate, I’m nineteen, and I’m a student at the University of Pittsburgh. I worked extremely hard in high school and managed to earn a 4.1 GPA. In College, I made the Dean’s List for academic excellence during both the fall and spring semester.
Unfortunately, a week before my first year of college started, my father went through my mail and found out that I am gay. My family, including extended family, is extremely homophobic. After they found out, my parents cut me off financially and I am no longer living with them. They are both unwilling and unable to cosign loans on my behalf. I have searched extensively, but I have been unable to find any loans which don’t require a cosigner.”
Kate goes on to say that she has some money saved, as well as a $6500 student loan she plans to put toward her second semester. She says she is going to spend the fall semester at a community college and hopes to return to Pitt in the spring but is still $15,000 short on what she needs to make it through the school year. Getting financial aid or any further loans would be difficult if not impossible for Kate unless she emancipates herself from her parents (which can take months, if not years) due to their income being factored in, even though they refuse to help her. Kate adds:
“Going to Pitt is a dream of mine and I couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to stay there. I am majoring in English and History and minoring in German with the hope of becoming a novelist. I will be immensely grateful if your contributions allow me to stay at Pitt. I’m praying every day for a miracle to help make this possible.”
I am well aware that this may be just another elaborate scheme to solicit donations from gullible people, but there are some things about this story ring true for me. For one, Kate has the full support of her boyfriend Will and his family.
Will is a trans man, which has caused some confusion, leading people to accuse Kate of actually being straight, to which Kate says:
“So many are claiming that I am straight and this is just my attempt to make a fake gay story for money. Regardless of if I am dating him or anyone else in the LGBT community I am still gay. Being in a “straight” relationship does not take away my sexuality.”
Lest she be accused of being a mooching freeloader (I can already see the angry Facebook comments brewing), up until being laid off on Thursday, Kate was had a full time job at Costco, but the majority of her pay went towards rent, food and her vital asthma and allergy medications.People have also pointed out how “convenient” it is that she lost her job right as she began asking for donations. To that I say, convenient for whom, exactly? According to Kate, she was let go due to “over hiring” and her lack of seniority, and she quickly posted a photo of her termination papers to verify her story.
I think we all know that this kind of thing happens all the time. As far as we’ve come regarding LGBTQ rights, we still have a long way to go and homophobic attitudes abound. Until someone can show me proof that any of Kate’s story is fabricated, I will support her and her desire to continue the education she has worked so hard for. You can follow Kate’s story on twitter under the hashtag #KeepKateInCollege.