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Alix M., midwestern United States

"Beginning in middle school, I became really depressed. At first I didn't know why. Didn't have a clue. But I knew it wasn't okay to be gay. No one was out at my middle school, but I heard lots of slurs all the time. Lots of homophobic comments. I was scared. Scared to be a lesbian. Scared to be out at school. Scared of being so alone. My grades started to fall. A counselor talked to me about my grades. I had always been a good student. But she didn't give me any opening to talk about sexuality. I needed to get information.

"Now I am a senior in high school. It's better now for me. But public spaces are the worst. I hear things all the time. The halls have a very male macho feeling-very sexist. I also had one teacher who would say `that's so gay' instead of saying `that's so stupid.'

"I had read about GSAs [gay-straight alliances] and wanted to start one. I began thinking about it my sophomore year. I did research on the Internet. I knew I needed to find a teacher to support the club. I was a little nervous. There are no out teachers. I asked fifteen teachers if they would be the faculty sponsor. They all said no. One really cool teacher just told me she couldn't deal with people's reaction. Finally, this one teacher said she would be the sponsor.

"The GSA began through word of mouth. We meet once a week, read books, watch videos, talk about the coming out process. I feel support now for the first time. And I know other kids like me have somewhere to go for support. It's no longer just me.

"Yeah, there has been some negative response. When we introduced the GSA to the faculty, one teacher went off, said we were all sinning, but other teachers defended us. Someone put graffiti on my car. Everyone once in a while I wonder what people are going to do to me, but mostly I just deal with it.

"I'm doing a lot better. I've become a strong individual. I've conquered my fears. I don't fear anything."

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