In January of 2013, I moved to Ohio and began attending Gahanna Lincoln High School. I entered my new environment with very clear intentions to shake things up. It was my junior year of high school, and I was determined to make an impact upon the school; I just didn’t know how.
It wasn’t until one day in February, when my mom’s then girlfriend came home with printouts of Kaleidoscope Youth Center’s website, that I knew the impact I was destined to make. I immediately began looking into what it would take for me to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at my school. It was almost as if the universe was screaming for this to happen, because the next day, as I walked past the ESL classroom, I conveniently noticed the teacher's “Safe Space” sticker.
I walked in immediately, introduced myself, and proposed an offer that she couldn’t resist. I asked her if she would mind standing as our school’s GSA advisor. I assured her that I would see that the club get approved and run each meeting , and that all I would need from her is her support. She was ecstatic and things soon took off. Our club was approved by late-March and we were all set to start meetings.
Then we reached a stand still. Our first meeting had been a success with a stellar turnout of 25 students, but I had no idea what else I could do to engage our members. I reached out to Kaleidoscope and asked for some assistance. Their GSA coordinator was very eager to come out and speak at one of our meetings. She came to our GSA with a plethora of information about Kaleidoscope’s center and the services they provide to Columbus’ LGBT youth. I had never seen my group so engaged and excited before! It was as if they then felt like a piece of a great, beautiful whole.
KYC’s visit inspired me in my leading of the club. I put in my greatest efforts to fashion the club to be a tool, resource, and refuge for the LGBT community of my school. I was inspired to create not only a comforting space where all are welcome, but also a space where knowledge is passed down to and shared amongst youth. I wanted to encourage an LGBT voice, and build a presence; and that I did. The next year, by the end of my high school career, our GSA was widely known of and talked about. Our accomplishments included filming a PSA, campaigning for Day of Silence and Asexual Alliance Day events, and hosting a guest speaker from the Human Rights Campaign. We even managed to occupy a whopping two-page spread in our school’s yearbook!
It warms me to reflect on all the positive things brought to the community by the GSA's presence, and all the great things to come. At the bottom of my heart I harbor an unadulterated appreciation for Kaleidoscope Youth Center, and the huge part they played in guiding me to do what I’ve done. They aided me with resources, inspired me on my path to leadership, and acted as a mecca for greatness to both me and my Gay-Straight Alliance.
Ryan M. is a freshman at Columbus State. In addition to the leadership he demonstrated with his GSA, Ryan has served 2 terms on KYC's Youth Leadership Council, represented KYC at National Gathering, and been a presenter at the Ohio GSA Summit. We can't wait to see what Ryan does next!
KYC Youth and Staff. Please feel free to comment and recommend topics for future posts. Youth posts are anonymous due to the confidentiality of the Center.