Why I Speak OUT

Several volunteers share their reasons for wanting to engage with the community as a SpeakOUT speaker:

~ Before joining SpeakOUT I was teaching at the high school in Canton. “Wellness Day” was celebrated every other year where both faculty and students alike would attend a variety of workshops. I attended “Homophobia 101: SpeakOUT.” I couldn’t believe that there was a group who were going to speak to our school community about LGBT issues. I sat in the back to let the students sit up front and I wanted to see how they would handle the discussion. It was amazing! The stories the speakers told were powerful and they answered the students’ questions with calmness and candor. I said to myself, if I ever leave teaching (I assumed most of the engagements would be during the school day) I want to do that! A year later, in 1999, I left teaching for a year and during that time I went to the Spring Speaker Training and have been speaking every since.

~ As a gay teenager in Ohio in the 1960s, I had no role models, no one to talk to and no one to tell me that I was a worthwhile human being. American culture at that time told me I was evil, that I was a pervert and a sinner. If SpeakOUT had come to my high school when I was 15, I’m certain my life would be very different today.

~ I volunteer for church events to counter the homophobia inherent in much of the traditional Christian religion. I enjoy speaking at middle and high schools to explain to young people that it’s okay to be gay and that I have a successful and fulfilling life. I go to corporate events when I can to show the business community that LGBTQIA* people are successful and contributing members of society. Education about ourselves and our lives is the key to a more accepting, inclusive and tolerant society.

~ Being visible as an out trans person is important to me as a social and human rights activist. The more people see me (us) and get to know me (us) the more friends we make. When our common human experiences are out for all to see, the differences begin to be a source of interest and even wonder; we begin to live in the similarities.

~ I love the diversity of students at school engagements. Remembering the middle school girl with the hijab who wanted to talk about her gender fluid friend makes me smile.

~ The more people know about us as LGBTQIA individuals, the less they fear us. Homophobia is based on ignorance. SpeakOUT tries to shine the light of truth on the LGBTQIA community and I am proud to be a member.

~ It's important for me to speak because I survived a horrible childhood for being me. There is a light at the end of the tunnel if we help one another, and the more we speak the better it is for those who follow.

~ I am also learning more about myself and about transgender people and their issues. I continue to educate myself and grow as an LBGTQIA individual with the help of SpeakOUT.

~ I believe education is critical. I also believe that as LGBTQIA people, our greatest enemy is ignorance. That is why I speak at SpeakOUT events.

*LGBTQIA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning, intersex, and asexual