2nd Place Essay: “Definition of gay: stereotypes and the importance of affirming educators”

February 16, 2016
As a child, I never really understood what it meant to be gay. I never understood the strict borders between pink and blue, between dolls and race cars, between pretty dresses and sports-related t-shirts. I never understood why these boundaries existed, and why I was on the “wrong” side of the wall. Nonetheless, I kept going, and I became who I am now, someone strong, both mentally and emotionally, and someone who loves himself and who is willing to help others love themselves too.
My name is Daniel. I am fifteen years old and a sophomore at Point Loma High. It’s been two years that I’ve been out of the closet, and eight years knowing I like boys. Though I face challenges at school, I’m still largely accepted in school, which makes me very grateful. The largest challenges I’ve faced are stereotypical judgements like “All gay guys are insanely flamboyant and overly dramatic,” and the occasional peer who uses homosexuality to make jokes. As irritating as these problems are, I know not to take them seriously.
Being gay has never been easy, but my experience has been facilitated thanks to some of my current and previous teachers and counselors who point out anything they believe can help me, like clubs, groups, and books; without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I wouldn’t be writing this essay. My counselors have helped me through problems, from dealing with emotions to finding places where I can be myself. I truly am fortunate to have them.
As open as our school is, it is far from being perfect. Point Loma High is really great, but I believe there are more ways it could support our LGBTQ+ youth. One way is by having more clubs or groups that support the LGBTQ+ youth and community in the school. Another way I think the school could support us is by having an all school Pride day, or Pride week, allowing the students to wear their sexual orientations’ colors and expressing themselves. The last way I think the school could support us is by having assemblies talking about our community, sexual orientations, and to speak out when there is bullying and hate present. This would encourage the students to take us seriously, stop making jokes, and allow us to show not only our own, but the school’s support and dedication to the LGBTQ+ youth of today and the years to come.
At this point, I know that the determination and ambition of others along with my own can change the way schools see the youth of a different sexual orientation, and how that goal isn’t far from becoming a reality. I know that I share this wish with others, and I am eager to find out how high we can go in making this dream take shape. I know that together, we can bring the wall down, I know that together we can speak out. With pride. For pride.