By Allison Hamburger
The Gay-Straight Alliance’s Pride Day this Friday will include a scavenger hunt, a rainbow dress-up day and a fundraiser for the Trevor Project (a hotline to prevent suicide among gay youth) GSA co-president Gabe Benjamin ’11 said.
Students are encouraged to dress up in bright colors, and face paint will be available, Benjamin said. There will also be sidewalk chalk in the quad so students can write or draw on the ground.
The club is inviting GSAs at other local private schools to participate in the campus scavenger hunt on Friday.Benjamin said that the club is still determining what the fundraiser will entail.
To promote Pride Day, about 20 GSA members performed the dance from the YouTube video “Double Dream Hands” in the quad, drawing a large crowd of spectators. The club aimed to emulate a flash mob, a group of people that perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse.
The dancers then led spectators to Ahmanson, where a panel of four gay and lesbian teachers discussed how they and others have dealt with their sexual orientation in an often less than receptive society.
“The point of the flash mob was to be visible on campus, and a lot of people saw us so that was successful,” Benjamin said.
Technology Integration Specialist Jennifer Lamkins, math teachers Jeffrey Snapp and Bill Thill and humanities and English teacher Martha Wheelock told the audience their respective coming-out stories in a panel moderated by Benjamin and co-president Danielle Strassman with the club’s faculty advisers Cheri Gaulke and Nancy Popp.
Wheelock said that her parents first learned of her sexual orientation when a photo of her holding a sign that read “Mother Nature is a lesbian” was published in Time magazine. Wheelock identifies herself as a “humanist,” someone who loves everybody.
Snapp said that coming out as gay was not a specific event but rather a progression.
“It was a journey towards honesty,” he said.
The homophobia at the all-boys Catholic high school Thill attended made coming to terms with his sexual orientation difficult.
“I had to work hard to self-censor every movement,” Thill said, though his large physical stature aided him.
Thill ultimately came out to other teachers at a school he worked at, but was fired.
“They were tolerant, but not accepting,” Thill said.
Lamkins said that she has many coming-out stories. The first time she told a student that she was a lesbian, he was accepting, but she has lost jobs and friends in the past, she said.