High school was hard for me. I was bullied relentlessly through elementary and middle school and high school was no exception. The bullying I experienced only intensified when I came out as queer – I was one of only a couple seniors at the school in semi-rural/semi-suburban Oregon who were out. We had very little teacher/administration support, and more often than not we were on our own to navigate what it meant to be quer in our high school. I became homeless early my senior year and along with another student founded the first GSA my high school ever had. I was verbally threatened daily by other students in the hallway, and on one occasion shoved into a wall of lockers by a football player.
I was told by the administration of my school that I was the first homeless teenager they had ever worked with, and that they really didn’t know what to do with me. I had one very strong ally amongst the faculty, but on the whole was very alone as I struggled through couch surfing and eventually moved to Portland (the nearest city) and commuted 2 hours each way by bus in order to finish my senior year. I thought a lot about my experiences in high school as I worked on the Kicked Out anthology and was thrilled when the organization Live Out Loud recently approached me about being a participant in their Homecoming Project . The program brings LGBTQ adults back to their high schools “to speak with a new generation of students about the unique experiences which have shaped the individuals they are today.”
Thanks to technology this winter I’ll be digitally touring back to my high school and visiting with the current students involved with the GSA I helped found a decade ago! I’m really excited about partnering with Live Out Loud for this unique project, am very much looking forward to talking with the GSA members stay tuned for future blog posts talking about what the experience of being back at my old high school was like!