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Virginia, my home for LGBT By J.M. Wolf

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With the United States butting heads about minorities, immigrants, and LGBT, it’s nice to see a community to come together to spread love, rather than hate.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of attending a Gay-Straight alliance assembly right here in Virginia. The assembly took place at Cox High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia and was open to the public. I didn’t expect the amazing turnout, as I walked into the auditorium to see the place crowded with hundreds of citizens.

The GSA was run by its President Wesley McKee, and Vice President Ashely Harris. Aside from the student panel who spoke of some of the issues seen by the LGBT community, we all had Michael Berlucchi, the President of Hampton Roads Pride, and Sergeant Shelly Meister, VBPD LGBT Liaison. (Yes, the Virginia police have an LGBT squad. How amazing is that?)

It was amazing to hear these students being asked questions such as explaining why bisexuality is not a phase and being bullied in High School and answer them with such confidence in maturity. When asked about bullying and cyberbullying, the students mentioned that it causes pain, just as hearing the phrase that something is “so gay”. They say the best action is simply not responding to it and ignoring it. Also to kill it with kindness.

Mr. Berlucchi mentioned that when he was a student at CHS back in the 90s he was harassed for being Gay himself, and he always felt embarrassed and ashamed for it. Now he regrets that he never spoke up sooner before graduating in 98. Sergeant Meister also admitted to feeling regretful for not speaking out back when she was in High School back in New Jersey. But both agreed that they loved the amazing turnout of this assembly, and seeing students and citizens coming together to show love and support.

Me personally, I truly wished my High School back in Texas had a Gay-Straight Alliance. Before graduating in 2012 I was struggling with finding myself and coming to terms with my sexuality in the beginning. During my freshman year, I was forced to come out to my entire class that I may like boys, and while several students gasped and gossiped and laughed, I was just left at my desk crying because I just gave them the one ammo they could possibly use against me.

But as I got older my bravery grew and grew, like the first flower blooming after a long drought. Everybody knew who I was and that I was Gay because I made myself known. I stuck out like a colorful glittery sore thumb. I can’t truly say I was every bullied for being gay, but I’m also not going to say that I didn’t see the hate from some students. I did have people make comments about me being a “faggot”, as well as some unnecessary sexual comments. But as I started coming to understand who and what I am, I just learned to ignore the haters because I know that I can’t please everyone, and I shouldn’t have to.

I held my High School sweetheart’s hand in the hallways, I kissed him in front of his class before going to my own class, and at my senior prom, I kissed him in the middle of the dancefloor in front of everyone. I didn’t care anymore. This was my life.

I even wore T-shirts I personally designed that read “I’m Gay, I’m Out, And I’m Proud”. Some of the teachers tried getting me to stop wearing them because apparently, it’s distracting, but I reminded them that the rule stated that I’m free to wear whatever I choose as long as it doesn’t promote violence gang related or drugs. So since my shirt wasn’t in either of those categories I was free to wear it. The teachers never bothered me again about it.

Now here I am in Virginia, at a High School, looking down at students coming together with the community wanting to promote inclusion and educate others.

I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this community. This is what true unity looks like. One where we spread love and acceptance. This is how we make a country strong.

In closing, for all my readers, I can one more thing I wish to say.

Everybody has a story. Everybody has an adventure. Everybody has an experience, and everybody has a nightmare. The problem is there are so many people who have them, but nobody will listen to them. Just as there are people who have been accepted, there are hundreds more who are suffering whether we see it or not. Some prefer to keep them bottled up because they are afraid. So, what I’m saying is this.

If you feel like there is nobody out there for you, nobody who will listen to you, then don’t be afraid to shoot me a message. I will gladly give you my support and my love. I will gladly listen to what you have to say and I will do my best to ease some of the pain you’re feeling. Nobody should ever feel like they can’t talk to someone. If you have nobody to talk to, then come talk to me. You will have nothing to worry about with me. I will always be here for you.

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