By: Dani Langevin – Feb. 2017
When I came out 23 years ago, I was incredibly insecure, nervous almost to the point of paralysis, and petrified to enter into a community I knew little to nothing about. How would I define myself as a lesbian? Will I fit in? Will I find someone? Who will support me? It inevitably became one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. The LBGTQ+ community is bigger than I thought, so diverse that anyone will find a place within it, and best of all wonderfully welcoming. I was thirty when I came out, an adult. I asked the members of Methuen High School’s GSA what they liked about being a part of the LBGTQ+ community. I wanted to get the perspective of a much younger generation.
Elizabeth said that it was the acceptance. “The community tends to be very loving and accepting of others, they make you feel welcomed.” Samantha enjoys the sense of belonging, too, and the community’s diversity. It is, “so diverse and encompassing. We are all bonded together through our identities.” This is a common theme when I talk to those who frequent my room on any given Thursday afternoon. They feel self, welcomed, and affirmed. Isn’t that what every person wants? Don’t we all want to know that we fit in somewhere and that we aren’t alone and we’re supported.
My co-advisor, Brendan Cripps, remarked, “As an Ally, it can help people who have been traditionally marginalized become more comfortable and included in the traditional mainstream.”
In a country and even world where marginalization and discrimination appear to be recently reignited, many of my students and not just those in GSA have openly expressed their concern about being targeted.
There has been a great deal of inflammatory rhetoric and new government action that is drawing lines in the sand creating division rather than unity. It pains me to see the worry on so many young people’s faces because they are looking at a future that could be exclusive when it should be inclusive. Being a part of something bigger than themselves and feeling safe is so important. “many families don’t support their children and having the community as a way to get that love and know you’re not alone is the best,” added Elizabeth.
That was my biggest fear about coming out, not having the support of my family. I was lucky. My parents were intelligent and open minded and passed these qualities onto my siblings. There was no hesitation by any of them to accept me and continue to love and support me. You’d be shocked to know how many in the LBGTQ+ community do not have that luxury. Brendan, a member of the straight community, takes part in GSA because he sees the importance of educating everyone in order to build bridges and make connections. “Helping people outside the LBGTQ+ community be more aware; truly making both communities be closer parts of a larger community,” is why he is an advocate.
It is our job as adults, parents, and citizens to make sure that every member of our community is loved and accepted. Divisive talk and measures will destroy the very foundation that this country was built upon. “United we stand, divided we fall.” “Join, or Die.” Our founding fathers knew this. Why are we suddenly losing sight of it? The LBGTQ+ community is the epitome of what the brilliant minds of those who formed this country knew: we need to be a united nation, even a united world. Take it from the mouths of babes, “It’s amazing to see the empathy and the love that the (LGBTQ+) community gives to the people. We all genuinely care about each other and want the best. We’re all striving for the same rights and the same outcome of equality.”