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Unsung Hero: John and PRIDE

Joined: 1/12/2015
Posts: 1
Although I am a heterosexual, cisgender woman, I have an idea of what it is like for LGBTs to be “in the closet.” I love to talk about my activities at the school where I teach, but this year, when I stepped up to co-advise the school’s gay straight alliance, I did not tell many people.I love this club, but I don’t talk about it because I’m scared of the reactions from those who are judgemental towards LGBT people.
In June 2013, when everyone changed their Facebook profile to the pink equality symbol while awaiting the Supreme Court’s controversial rulings, I wanted to join but didn’t. I told myself I was avoiding drama, but really, I was just a coward. Regardless, when the Court struck down Prop 8 and DOMA, I celebrated and taught my son about this civil rights victory. I thanked God for people brave enough to stand up against injustice.
Back in 2008, chaos ensued during a school-wide debate about the upcoming vote on Prop 8. As immature students made comments like, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” I cringed. Statistically 10% of the audience was likely gay. Days later, when the proposition passed, I imagine they felt like crawling into their closets to cry.
Surprisingly, that’s not what Johnathan did. This tenth-grader bravely helped start a Gay Straight Alliance at our school. As John came out to his parents and friends, he gained confidence. His charisma helped quickly grow the club’s size and impact. By his junior year, John was organizing awareness activities. I will never forget the day he confidently stood in front of my classroom wearing his PRIDE shirt, “People Respecting the Individual Differences in Everyone,” talking about Harvey Milk Day. His courage spread and more students were willing to come out of the closet.
John’s selfless humility makes him an unsung hero. John’s senior year, he did not take his boyfriend to prom. Perhaps his boyfriend was not out to his family or just didn’t want to endure the stares of being the only guy-guy couple at prom. Instead of tagging along with a group of friends, John asked a courageous lesbian in the eleventh grade whose parents had made it clear that they would never accept her homosexuality. Since her own prom would include awkward decisions regarding how to get around her parents’ disapproval, John made sure she’d get a chance at enjoying this high school tradition by making her his guest.
As a timid LGBT ally myself, I see John as a hero for his unprecedented bravery. Ironically, John recently shared that in his college class, he gave a speech about how I have inspired him to be a teacher. This brought tears to my eyes. I don’t think John could ever truly understand how deeply he has inspired me. As an award-winning educator Robert John Meehan once wrote, “"A great teacher is someone who can learn from his students, with his students, and for his students.”
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Comment by warren

Joined: 6/22/2011
Posts: 293
It sounds as if John's tribute to you was well deserved. Thank you for writing.
Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 8:04:15 PM
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