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ToBGLAD Day: Teachers talk about personal experiences as members of the LGBGTQ community

by Douglas Abrams

Senior Lillia Baird asked math department head Nicole Conway, guidance counselor Michael Ford, and English teacher Bradley Jensen questions about  their experiences as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community during E-block’s edition of Transgender Bisexual Gay Lesbian Awareness Day (ToBGLAD), organized by this school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), in the auditorium during E-block yesterday.

Baird started off the discussion by asking the faculty members when they realized they were LGBTQ.

“I guess I have never not been gay,” said Ford. “I mean, I grew up in Manhattan. I knew what gay was and I never pretended to not be gay.”

Unlike Ford, both Conway and Jensen said that there was a specific time when they realized that they were part of the LGBTQ community. “I did not realize I was gay until I went to college. When I went to college, I had two gay coaches and that helped me realize that being gay was normal,” said Conway.

After that, Baird asked the panel members to share their coming out story.

Conway said that she tried to deny that she was gay for a long time. “When I was in high school, I had boyfriends and I was a pretty typical girl. But then I went to college and I realized that I was gay. I first came out to my inner circle of friends, and then to my family after,” said Conway.

Her comments, along with both Ford’s and Jensen’s, which focused on who they came out to, led to a brief discussion on how information is disseminated when one reveals that they are not heterosexual.

After asking the panelists questions, Baird encouraged audience members to ask the panelists questions. Multiple students asked for advice on how to help themselves or their friends come out.

“I think this is really important,” said Jensen. “There’s no real resource for LGBTQ kids for how to come out or how to deal with things like that.”

The block ended after the panelists told stories about times they were frustrated with people who insulted them because of their sexual orientation.

“Sometimes I’m out on the street and I hear someone say something offensive to me,” said Ford. “I really have trouble suppressing my emotions. Sometimes I just want to go over to them and yell at them. When people insult you like that it means they’re ignorant.”

At that, the audience started applauding Ford and the other panelists.

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