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COMMUNITY VOICES “So what’s the spiritual les-


son here?” my friend asked. “Really? Right now you’re go-


ing to ask a loaded question like that?” I instantly thought. I didn’t show my frustration.


Students at the North County LGBT Coalition’s GSA Awards ceremony.


North County GSA awards an emotional affair


The North County LGBT


Coalition and The LGBTQ Pride Center at Cal State San Marcos pooled their resources to sponsor the third annual North County Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Awards. I intended to write this piece as straightforward “reporting”— third-person, proper, slightly removed to preserve objectivity. I would remain impartial. Well, forget that. From the moment the key- note speaker Kurt Dearie began to speak, there were tears in many eyes, especially in those of the students who belong to the gay-straight alliance he advises at Carlsbad High School. And, like the attendees at the awards ceremony, I cannot reflect on our progress without tears.


How can I show no bias when


I recall Vista High School stu- dent, Brittany, in her suit and tie, long hair in a neat ponytail, telling the room that she was once close to suicide but is now president of her school’s GSA and a com- mander in Junior ROTC. How do I keep from smiling


and crying when her girlfriend introduces herself as the “First Lady of the GSA”—especially when I glance over and see the shining eyes of teachers, parents and other “old people” like me? Am I supposed to stoi-


cally suck it up when a beautiful, strong youth in jeans, T-shirt and a soft fuzzy pink hat stands at the front of the room and openly states her/his gender ambivalence, proclaiming it with the calm of someone who’s not sure whether s/he’ll have coffee or tea? S/he felt that safe, that welcome; s/he felt the comfort to grow and explore that a gay- straight alliance is meant to offer. How about when a couple of these kids show the guts to break another taboo—one often thornier than that of sexual or gender orientation? Two youth came out to the gathering as having mental health issues. Clearly, the safety and support of GSAs goes far beyond LGBTQ issues. They—we—are creating havens where all youth can just be themselves. How do I keep my emotions


at bay when non-LGBTQ peers stand up and talk about their sup- port for their classmates, reflect- ing on the ways in which they themselves have been dispar- aged by other’s attitudes toward ethnicity or other characteristics? Even when a few of the allied youth made clumsy speeches


I just looked at him and smiled, letting out a giggle (apparently I don’t ever laugh; my friends tell me I just giggle) and taking a deep breath. “Head up, back straight, core tight, quick steps,” I chanted to myself as every muscle in my body quivered at each step I took down the slackline. It was my first attempt at slacklining, the popular outdoor sport in which you traverse a line suspended between two anchor points. The line is made of a seatbelt-like band. It wasn’t quite the challenge I remember tightrope walkers facing in the circus as a kid, but it was enough of a challenge for me, the guy who sustained his only broken bone slip- ping on a sidewalk. (Trans- lation:


grace and coordina- tion aren’t my strong suits.)


JENNIFER SCHUMAKER


NORTHERN EXPOSURE


that seemed to border on pity, I heard what was really happen- ing: these students are sifting through the aloneness we have all experienced, helping weave the tapestry of acceptance. They are learning to celebrate their differences and delight in their shared humanity. They may not be able to articulate it all yet, but, with the support of their teacher- advisors and the community, they are living it.


Oh, and I will certainly find it


hard to maintain composure as I remember one young woman coming out as bisexual right there on the stage, appealing directly to her mother, who sat at the table. I watched that girl walk into her mother’s loving, accepting embrace. Moreover, I watched that girl’s face. Though her voice carried a bit of a waver, it was clear she expected nothing less than the loving reception she received. There’s the miracle. The tears in the room mean we all know that these are all still miracles; that behind the night’s congratulatory atmosphere are the individual struggles and mile- stones of everyone in that room, young or old, queer or straight. These are miracles in the same way a baby’s first steps seem a miracle: new and wondrous, yet expected and anticipated, and seen as just the beginning. These GSA youth are our miracles: mir- acles we are turning into every day occurrences with every step they take, every story we share, every youth who is supported, every life that is saved. The adults in the room had


see Northern, pg 20


public relations and I’ve learned how to start talking and craft thoughtful responses as I speak. “It’s about persistence: to not give up and keep trying. I might not ever be able to love people like God does or have all the an- swers about my faith, but I keep trying. And like C.S. Lewis said, faith is more about the journey, not the destination.”


I beamed at the speed and wittiness of my response. Then I went down—another


failed attempt at making it across the slackline. Walking the line and thinking about faith, I couldn’t help but think of the fight for equality. How often do we find ourselves in precarious situations, sus- pended between where we are and where we want to be? If this year’s challenges are any indica- tion of the uphill battle we face, then we could use some hope to


FINDINGSOLACE JOSHUA ROMERO


Find that church, synagogue, temple,


mosque or other house of worship that re- minds you there is something larger than yourself, something to believe in that tells


As every fiber of my being was focused on making it just halfway across the slack line, his voice rang in my ears, “What’s the spiritual lesson here?” Thank God my day job is in


keep us moving forward. The year started off with


news from Uganda that legisla- tion was in the works to allow the death penalty for being gay. As debate over the bill contin- ues, the Right Rev. Christopher


Senyonjo, a retired Ugandan Anglican bishop, continues fighting for the equality of LGBT persons in that nation, despite threats and a recent call for his death. In May,


you the disappointments of today are only temporary.


we attended the Harvey Milk Diver- sity Breakfast, where we wel- comed Bishop Senyonjo and learned


firsthand of the social injustices in Uganda. From a holy man, we heard how Jesus would have never allowed his follow- ers to kill others in his name.


see Solace, pg 15


December 17-30, 2010 GAY SAN DIEGO


13 Walking the slackline to equality with faith and hope


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