I have written about this subject before but I am inclined to bring it up again as my hometown of Fort McMurray grapples with the installation of a Pride Crosswalk and the importance of awareness. I am an alumni of the Edmonton Christian School; a school that promotes Christ centered education. At the time I attend ECS it was a private institution that has since fallen under the public system. My family is Buddhist but a private school was appealing to my parents as education has always been important.
In March a Baptist school in Alberta was resisting the creation of a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA’s). (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/education-christian-schools-lgbtq-1.4039046)
What is a GSA’s? The Alberta Government defines it as:
Gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and queer-straight alliances (QSAs) are peer support networks that promote welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students and their allies.
So what does this have to do with me? Well acceptance has been a central theme in my recovery and looking back at where I learned some of the self-destructive behaviours that I exhibited as an adult my time in high school has been a formative source of dysfunction. I have learned that as teenager’s individuals develop a sense of style, a sense of self and a sense of whom they are. During my teenage years, I was trying to change my sexual orientation. I felt rejected in the Christian school, the majority of the students were of the Christian Reformed denomination who at the time expressed that homosexuality was a sin, it was disgusting, it was a choice and if I believed hard enough, if I lied to myself enough I could be straight. As such I missed out on a crucial stage of development and it has contributed to my immature adult behaviour. Much of what I am currently doing in therapy is trying to find my authentic self as a lesbian and let go of the distorted beliefs I picked up during this time.
In Fort McMurray the online backlash to the installation of the Pride Crosswalk has been more negative than positive, but ironically it is that negativity that demonstrates the need for Pride. For myself in my youth, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. My homosexuality made me an outsider at school and my inability to communicate those feelings isolated me from my family.
Looking back, I feel that a gay straight alliance would have been a lifesaver. Maybe I would have attended, maybe I would not have or maybe I would of pretended to be straight and ignored the entire thing. But a seed would have been planted, instead of feeling like the only gay person in that school, instead of expecting anger and rejection from everyone in my life maybe I would have understood that I was not alone, I was not on my own and I was not a disgusting individual for having feelings towards women.
In my experience ideas grow, a seed is planted it starts small and it grows as you feed it. I fed the belief that I could be straight with lies, I lied to myself and others for more than a decade and lying became the mechanism by which I would relate to people. It would also be what would push me to hurt and betray so many people in my life.
GSA’s are not gay celebration factories or a conspiracy to overthrow the straight people of the world. A GSA’s may have sent the message that I am not alone in this; but more than anything a GSA demonstrates that in this big wide world the LGBTQ community has allies. People who are willing to support, to recognize, to not be judgemental and most of all to recognize that love is love.
I am so proud to see the work that is being done by the youth in Fort McMurray to establish GSA’s and I am thrilled to see the support in the community for Pride. Its an exciting time.