By: Dani Langevin – April, 2022
“If you can see it, you can be it,”- Elizabeth Marvel. Simple words but, so very powerful. Recently the members of the Methuen High School Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) donated $300 to the media center for LGBTQ+ materials, as well as, purchasing a large banner hanging in the high school entryway celebrating diversity. The materials purchased are needed to give the members of this community affirmation, acceptance and guidance. We are blessed to live in a geographical area where we are not met with the damaging resistance we are seeing throughout our country today.
I envy the members in the GSA. They are living in a time when they can express their individuality and sexuality in ways I would have been, quite literally, killed for. Although they don’t see it, the freedoms and protections they have today were not even on the radar when I was their age. No hope. No representation. No role models or heroes. I was alone along with millions of other LGBTQ+ Americans hiding in a closet created by straight people to make them more comfortable. Of course, the young see what has not been achieved rather than what has and why shouldn’t they? Why celebrate acquiring rights and freedoms that were naturally ours at birth?
“Having a flag that represents me and many others gives me a place to be who I am and not have to worry about hiding myself from others,” mentioned Emma, a student at MHS.
I hid myself for thirty years because there was nothing that represented who I am or how I felt. I was made to feel invisible, unloved, and inadequate. Is that what we want for our children today? That’s what Florida is doing. I pray it won’t happen here.
Logan, another student at MHS says, “…the donation and banner, it acts as a reminder both in and out of the line of sight that the LGBTQ+ community as a whole is, in the simplest of terms, a community. People may not like it, some of the populace of Methuen sure as hell don’t, but it’s the truth and the banner and donation serve as a reminder of that, a reminder that we will do everything in our power to be seen and heard not as below others, but instead as equals.”
They are right of course. We are a community just as there are Black communities and Asian, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, etc. We are an American community. We were born and raised in America just like you. We are endowed by our inalienable rights, just like you and yet we must still fight for them. We must fight for representation in our families, films, politics, philosophies, religions, schools and institutions. Schools are trying to erase us by banning books and lessons about sexual orientation.
What about the kids who have same sex parents? Shouldn’t they be represented? Or the girl or boy who knows what they feel but are constantly being told that it is wrong and hateful either by explicit or implicit messages? Don’t they need protecting? If not, then the message is loud and clear, “They are not worth protecting!” I’m honored to be teaching in a school system that values all of its students.
Less than 100 years ago it was illegal to depict a “queer” person in film. Any theatre that did could risk being closed for a year. A year! What message did that send? Then along comes the Lavender Scare when the government fired thousands of employees they thought to be “queer” costing our country millions of dollars.
The LGBTQ community tried to explain that, if you just accept us and let us live freely and openly, then a foreign entity could not bribe gay government employees for government secrets. Our forward-thinking government thought it better to redline and destroy these people’s lives.
The resulting hatred of this community has lasted to the present day. How can it not if states like Florida and Texas can pass such blatantly discriminatory laws? Senator Joseph McCarthy called homosexuals “morally weak” and “psychologically disturbed.” And yet, it was the heterosexuals who were doing more harm to society than two men or two women loving each other. Straight people harassed, beat, lynched, burned, and killed many in the LGBTQ+ community (and still do) when all we want to do is to work, live, and love.
“The installment of this banner and donation…will give the students more awareness and support of the LGBTQ+ community…This alone is significant to me since it’s positively affecting my peers and friends who are LGBTQ+…making the school more welcoming to people of different sexualities and gender,” says Sam, yet another student at MHS.
I am proud to be a member of this community. I have long since shed my shame and fear that kept me in the closet for three decades and that seems to scare a lot of other people. Our boldness, our willingness to shout out loud and proud makes others very nervous. And that’s when policy begins to get ugly. “We don’t like how you make us feel. Therefore, we will shut you up and out through policies of discrimination.” And it is all under the guise of “public safety,” “National Security” and the “preservation of American society.” They’re used to take certain people’s rights away. It’s a lie.
I am, however, optimistic with this new generation. Those that are LGBTQ+ are strong and proud and not prone to take discrimination laying down. Those who are not a part of our community but support it are just as bold and determined. They have a conscience and moral code high above future generations. They question the inequalities they see everywhere and demand change, not because it is good for them but, it’s good for those they care about and the community they live in.
With each new generation of voters, they progress towards a more equitable society for everyone. They won’t vote for those of you who can’t seem to grasp that we are all human and legal American citizens. They won’t support those who misrepresent us or ignore that we even exist. They will demand a better society. Get ready! ◊