I went to my high school today and GSA club. It was an interesting experience to say the least, and not just because I was meeting with a group of kids who are exploring who they are and what it means to grow up as part of the LGBTQIA community - but also because my high school has not changed. Even the teachers (shout outs!) look the same as I remember, and I was there (as it was pointed out) 10 years ago. Something about walking in those halls just made me feel... accomplished. Not necessarily in the way of "I made it out of here alive" but probably closer to "I learned so much about myself in this place" and it was nice to go back and get that feeling of being larger than Lynbrook. Some people I know still talk about high school as a place that was hell for them, and on first thought I might agree. However when I really think about it, I grew into who I really was in high school. Sure, college rounded off the edges and helped me streamline my true self (although by no means have I stopped growing and I'm sure I never will) but I would not be who I am without high school and it's nice to think that it didn't defeat me or traumatize me.
Every school needs a GSA. I should rephrase: every school needs a safe GSA. It's astonishing to know how far this school has come and in some strange way I'm proud to have been apart of it. I remember GSA back in my day in LHS and by no means was it something that people were proud to be apart of. Some were, don't get me wrong. But no kid in high school wants to paint a target on their back, and GSA did that to some of us. Eventually our GSA disappeared and there was nowhere for kids to go and just be themselves.
So I started S.T.A.L (Students Talk About Life) and it was a place that anyone could go and talk about anything. It was nice, actually. It didn't get labeled as the "gay club" or anything like that. It was just somewhere we could go to talk about life, and love, and drama, and abusive parents, and social norms, and... anything. It really was a lot of fun (and I even got a scholarship out of it) and something I would do all over again without question. It was worth it, and it helped a lot of kids just get through high school.
All of this makes me think back to my sociology classes, and that maybe I should be pursuing that. I really do love working with people; adults and kids - especially in schools. It's something I've been looking into here and there, and maybe could be something I volunteer to do to see if I'm truly that interested in it.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun today talking to these kids and hearing what they had to say about their lives. They were absolutely inspiring, and smart, and grounded. It's so different for them and that makes me so excited for them to grow up in a world that is changing. A world that is accepting them and listening to them, and making them feel more safe as time goes by. I cannot even express how amazing it feels to go back to my high school that had slurs and hate traveling the hallways as if they had legs and know that there's a club now for kids who are wondering (or already know) who they are. It's enthralling, and awe-inspiring, and fills my heart with hope.
Things are changing. If I needed proof, it happened today. If Lynbrook can do it, there's no telling how far society can go.
I'm excited to see where things will go from here. The future is bright and I'm just so charged to be a part of it. Society is turning into a place that I would look forward to raising kids in.
A place of love, and acceptance, and an attitude that states who you are is good enough. You don't have to work to be like someone else, you can just be you. Because who you are is amazing. So I guess what I'm saying is: it's nice to be told to "just be yourself" and actually do it.
Isn't humanity fascinating?