YE GAY O’LE VALLEY ~ LBGTQ+ donates to media center – The Valley Patriot
By: Dani Langevin – April 2022
“If you can see it, you can be it”, – Elizabeth Marvel. Simple words but so powerful. Recently, members of the Methuen High School Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) donated $300 to the media center for LGBTQ+ materials, as well as the purchase of a large banner hanging at the entrance of the high school celebrating the diversity. The materials purchased are necessary to give members of this community affirmation, acceptance and guidance. We are fortunate to live in a geographic area where we do not encounter the damaging resistance that we see today throughout our country.
I envy the members of the GSA. They live in a time where they can express their individuality and their sexuality in a way that I would have been, literally, killed for. Although they don’t see it, the freedoms and protections they enjoy today weren’t even on the radar when I was their age. Hopeless. No representation. No role models or heroes. I was alone with millions of other LGBTQ+ Americans hidden in a closet created by straight people to make them more comfortable. Of course, young people see what hasn’t been done rather than what has been and why shouldn’t they? Why celebrate the acquisition of rights and freedoms that were naturally ours at birth?
“Having a flag that represents me and many others allows me to be who I am and not have to worry about hiding from others,” said MHS student Emma.
I hid for thirty years because there was nothing that represented who I am or how I felt. I was made to feel invisible, unloved and inadequate. Is this what we want for our children today? That’s what Florida does. I pray it doesn’t happen here.
Logan, another MHS student, says, “…the donation and the banner are a reminder both in and out of line of sight that the LGBTQ+ community as a whole is, in the simplest terms, a community. People may not like it, some of the people of Methuen certainly don’t like it, but it’s the truth and the banner and the donation serve as a reminder of that, a reminder that we will do whatever is in our power to be seen and heard not below others, but rather as equals.
They are right of course. We are a community like there are black and Asian, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, etc. communities. We are an American community. We were born and raised in America, just like you. We are endowed with our inalienable rights just like you and yet we still have to fight for them. We must fight to be represented in our families, our films, our politics, our philosophies, our religions, our schools and our institutions. Schools try to erase us by banning books and classes about sexual orientation.
What about children who have same-sex parents? Shouldn’t they be represented? Or the girl or boy who knows how they feel but is constantly being told it’s wrong and hateful through explicit or implied messages? Don’t they need to be protected? If not, the message is loud and clear: “They’re not worth protecting!” I am honored to teach in a school system that values all of its students.
Less than 100 years ago, it was illegal to portray a “queer” person in film. Any theater that does so risks being closed for a year. A year! What message did this send? Then came the lavender scare when the government laid off thousands of employees they thought were “queer,” costing our country millions of dollars.
The LGBTQ community tried to explain that if you just accepted us and let us live freely and openly, then a foreign entity couldn’t bribe gay government employees for government secrets. Our forward-thinking government thought it best to draw a red line and destroy these people’s lives.
The resulting hatred for this community has lasted to the present day. How can you not if states like Florida and Texas can pass such blatantly discriminatory laws? Senator Joseph McCarthy called homosexuals “morally weak” and “psychologically disturbed”. And yet it is heterosexuals who do more harm to society than two men or two women who love each other. Straight people have harassed, beaten, lynched, burned and killed many members of the LGBTQ+ community (and still do) when all we want is to work, live and love.
“Having this banner and donation installed…will give students more awareness and support for the LGBTQ+ community…That alone is important to me as it positively affects my peers and friends who are LGBTQ+…making the school more welcoming for people of different sexualities and gender,” says Sam, yet another student at MHS.
I am proud to belong to this community. I have long since let go of my shame and fear that have kept me in the closet for three decades and seem to frighten many other people. Our audacity, our willingness to shout loud and clear makes others very nervous. And this is where politics starts to get ugly. “We don’t like how you make us feel. Therefore, we will lock you up through policies of discrimination. And all this under the guise of “public safety”, “national security” and “preservation of American society”. They are used to take away the rights of certain people. This is a lie.
However, I am optimistic with this new generation. Those who are LGBTQ+ are strong and proud and are not inclined to accept discrimination. Those who are not part of our community but support it are equally bold and determined. They have a conscience and a moral code superior to future generations. They challenge the inequalities they see everywhere and demand change, not because it’s good for them, but because it’s good for those they love and for the community in which they live.
With each new generation of voters, they progress towards a fairer society for all. They won’t vote for those of you who don’t seem to understand that we are all human, legal American citizens. They will not support those who distort us or ignore that we exist. They will demand a better society. Be ready! ◊