Student Stories

I Know, Son

by Anonymous

Thanksgiving, 2010

“Hey, Mom- there’s something I need to tell you.”

She knows what I’m going to say, and she begins to tear up.

“I’m gay.”

There’s a pause, then she runs forward and grabs me, holding me close.“I know, son. I know. I love you.”

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was terrifying. Extremely terrifying. I remember it all in vivid detail: my heart beating rapidly, the sense of fear running through my blood. But I somehow said it, because I needed to say it. I said it because I needed to be honest, because I needed to be free.

I don’t know exactly what gave me the confidence to come out as gay. In October of last year, I asked one of my best friends (a lesbian): “Uh… How do you come out?” That was my odd little line, the only thing I could manage to say. But I was able to say it, and looking back I am so glad I did. She took me in, comforted me, and then helped me through my difficulties. And she helped me in one other way, which was the most helpful thing she could ever do: She founded our school’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

At first, I was not a part of the GSA. But even without being a member, the GSA was able to guide me through my confusion. The group’s presence was comforting to me. Knowing that there were people who supported me and accepted me, people who were trying to help create a safe and accepting school environment for me and other LGBT kids was an incredible help. Their confidence and support gave me the willpower to come out to my parents. I realized how valuable the GSA was a little later than I would have liked. I attended a few sporadic meetings, and after a few weeks I just stared attending them all.

Just a few weeks ago, the GSA organized our school’s Day of Silence. I arrived at school early that day, expecting to find the normal chaos of a Friday morning. Instead I found utter silence. And it wasn’t just the thirty or so GSA kids… it was everyone. Even teachers taught their classes in silence. I knew the GSA was great, but I didn’t know it was that great. Day of Silence not only showed how much of an impact the club has made on the school and how important that impact is, but it also showed me how welcome I am in our community.

Will You Be That Person?

by Anonymous

Founding my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance was a long and difficult process, but it was definitely worth it. I never knew what a GSA was until I learned about them online. I thought it was a GSA was an awesome idea so I did some research on what types of things to do with a GSA and how to go about creating one. In 8th grade, I asked the dean of students at my school about it. He though it was a great idea but he thought that it probably wouldn’t be approved. It said it was “too controversial” or something. This got me kind of down and I left the idea for a while.

When I started 9th grade, I marched up to the principal and said that our school should have a GSA. She thought it was a great idea, but I needed to find a voluntary adviser and some people that would join the group. The subject would also have to be brought up to the school’s board of education. I began my search for an adviser and I began a petition to start a GSA at our school. I got a few hundred signatures, including some from teachers. Through gathering my signatures, I discovered there were a few people who didn’t believe in the cause. I did some more research and created some rules for the GSA. I asked many different teachers about being an adviser. Sadly, many of them already had other obligations.

I was disappointed, but then in the beginning of my 10th grade year, a woman approached me because she heard that I wanted to start a GSA at the school. She also believed that the school should have one and she told me that she would gladly be the adviser. The subject was brought up to the board of education and they approved it. Yes!

The adviser and I began setting up a schedule and researching what other GSAs were discussing and doing. In November, after two long years, we officially had the GSA! Sure, we don’t get funding because we aren’t an official club, but it’s better than not having a GSA at all.

At the meetings, I’ve met a lot of cool people. We have a rainbow wall in one of the main hallways. There, we post LGBT resources and we have a person of the month (someone who does/has done something for the LGBT community). Yes, there has been some negativity about the group, but the members are there for each other and we offer advice, help each other and all those negative people seem to not matter anymore, We have each other and that’s all that matters. We’ve gone on field trips, conferences, participated in events (including Day Of Silence), and more. I love our GSA, and I’m glad I stood up and made it happen.

One person can do it! One person can stand up and make it happen! Will you be that person?

Constant Anti-Gay Language

by Carly F.

Living in a very conservative community in Arizona, I found a lot of resistance trying to implement any program in my K-8 school to fix the constant use of anti-gay language that’s used there. After talking with both my school principal and the district superintendent, who made it known that they were against bringing anything focused on LGBT-bullying into my school or district, and researching the laws and court cases applying to Gay-Straight Alliances (which said only students in high schools had a right to start one), I soon realized starting a GSA at my school was not going to happen, at least not anytime soon. Yet, there was still a need for something like a GSA in the community. And so, I decided to start a GSA outside of school and open to anyone in my town who was between 10 and 18.

There were a lot of benefits to starting a GSA on my own, the most obvious and important being not having to deal with a school or some other organization in convincing them to do it. Another great thing about it was that myself and the other youth who joined (all my friends so far, but we hope to expand soon) got to make pretty much all the decisions about what we do and how we do it without someone higher up having to rubber-stamp everything. Better yet, we wouldn’t have to deal with schools that want to try and pretend the GSA doesn’t exist or limit access to resources that other clubs may have.

But there were certainly drawbacks to starting a GSA on my own. The freedom of being practically on my own organizing it was also a negative, because I had to do a lot of organizing, including finding members and finding a place to meet. I originally thought that place might have to be at my house, but I didn’t like the idea because I wanted it to be a more public place, where strangers could come and join. And I certainly didn’t think someone who didn’t know me would want to come to a stranger’s house to join the GSA, as having it at a house would make it seem a little less legitimate. Luckily, my church has been really supportive in all the work I’ve been doing against heterosexism and LGBT-bullying (I know this may seem surprising, but I go to a pretty liberal church that’s open and affirming. We even have a rainbow banner up!). Anyways, they let me use the youth room to meet, which seemed like a much better option then my house, and the youth director gave me a lot of support in organizing everything, since he’s worked with non-profit immigration groups a lot and knew a lot about organizing and running meetings.

Eventually, we had our first meeting, which consisted of me, my sister, three of my friends, and some pizza. In the small youth room with Think B4 You Speak posters from GLSEN that I had hung up, we discussed what our mission as a club would be, and how we might accomplish our goals. We’ve met a couple times after that, gained one new member, and have held a celebration of National Coming Out Day and Ally Week. Our goals for the future are gaining more members, talking to our school board about implementing programs and/or comprehensive policies that will help prevent LGBT-bullying, and trying to get the school to allow us to participate in the Day of Silence. We also want to partner with the Open & Affirming committee at my church to host a panel for the community on the subject of “What if my kid is gay?” which will hopefully help parents of LGBT teens become more accepting and supporting of their teen’s identity, or just give them helpful information.

I feel like our GSA, though quite small, has the potential to do a lot of things. We’d like to thank the Make It Safe Project for helping us work towards one of our goals, educating the community about LGBT issues, by sending us books that will hopefully be made available to teens in our community. And I would definitely encourage any kid who wants to start a GSA to not give up. Just try and find someone or some organization or group in your community that can support your goals, and you’ll be able to do it and make a huge difference in your school or community.