For those of you who don’t know, my topic for my agent of change was Gay Marriage/Gay Rights. This entire subject is very controversial and is a topic of debate everyday. I for one, haven’t told my stance on the topic. On whether I do, or do not support the movement. I wanted to be unbiased and go into this process with a free and open mind that could possibly be swayed. If you ask me, this is the best choice to do for anyone that is introducing themselves into a new way of life/element. All in all, it was a life changing experience.
I may have been unbiased, but this didn’t stop me from helping out the cause. I began volunteer work for The Attic Youth Center. A community designed as a safe haven for lesbian, gay, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to find and develop into free thinking and healthy adults (If you are interested in joining like I did, visit their website here. Or if you'd prefer a different community organization, click here). There are many young people on the streets that have been kicked out/abandoned, especially gay youth that have accepting parents. The Youth Attic helps shelter some of the youth as well. These kids are still kids in my eyes. Gay or not. So I decided it would be an amazing idea to sell baked goods. From April 8th-April 26th, I fundraised for the Attic by selling donuts to the fellow SLA student body while also outside. Nearly $100 was made, which was greatly appreciated by the Attic. When first discovering the Attic, I really wanted to be hands on “involved” with them, volunteer wise. Sadly, in order to do so, I had to be 27. Being a minor can sometimes limit you in a sense! But not in this case because I did get involved and I was able to get my peers involved as well.
When setting out to make a change, I thought I had it all figured out. Originally, I had planned to get involved with Giovanni’s room, the nation's first gay library not too far from the Attic. I told you guys about it in my previous blogs. In my vision, it was going to be a sleek and smooth interview with the owners who would give me a piece of their life as gays. But then I realized, what else would have happened from there? There wasn’t much else that I could extend from and make my own. But from research and other numerous sources, I discovered the wondrous Attic Youth Center. I found out about the organization whilst looking for other gay youth centers in the Philadelphia area. When setting out to find a place like such, I mainly aimed to connect with people of my age. Of my generation. To see what it is like growing up for them and how they deal with who they are.
Some of the main, but minor problems that occurred were the fact that many of people I interviewed/that were involved, were very camera shy. They were pretty open with answering my questions, but when it came to documenting it, that was another story. I had to respect their privacy. I completely understood where they were coming from with wanting to stay discreet. But their words made up for the lack of identification. The main subject of my interviews was with the one and Mr. Jay Jacinto Grant, one of the directors of the Attic who enjoyed my company and my tons of questions. You can read the interview I had with him here.While the visits and bake sales occurred, I wanted to include some of the members of the SLA community as well. So I seeked out some of my peers that many of you may know. I created a small, quick, five questioned interview that I had with each of them. They both came from opposite sides of spectrum. Nashay Day, encouraging and behind gay rights. While Andrew Roberts, intelligent and fully has his grasp on why he opposes. The text below entails the conversation:
Q1: Why do you support gay marriage?
They should be able to get married. They are people too. It’s their constitutional right, let alone, human right.
Q2: What do you think keeps people from supporting?
Ignorance. They are people in this world that don't support gay rights mainly because of religion. I think this connects, because essentially, you’re forcing your religion on someone else.
Q3: Do you think sexuality defines somebody?
No. It doesn’t define who you are, it defines your sexuality.
Q4: Knowing you as a supporter of civil rights, do you think there is a connection between civil rights of the early 20th century and gay rights?
Yes. Before gays were getting discriminated, blacks were getting
discriminated. Even though race and sexuality are different, it can
still have the same affects on someone's mindset.
Q5: Do you know anyone that is gay?
Yes. Nearly all of SLA.
Interview with Andrew Roberts:
Q1. Do you support marriage?
Q2. Why not?
I believe that marriage should be between a man and woman and that man should not change it. Marriage is a scarcer thing with divorces and what not.
Q3. Do you think religion has affected your views on the topic?
Q4. What do you think will happen if gay marriage is legalized? Will there be positive or negative effects?
A lot of democrats will be happy. The problem I see with gay marriage is it expands marriages ideals. If you expand the grammar to gay marriage, people could protest polygamy as well. People will say we did it in the pass, we can do it now.
Q5. Do you think LGBT will benefit society?
Gay rights, I think that people will be happier, but it’s not going to benefit really.
These people were amazing help to me in all ways possible. As the world gets older and generations grow, will there be changes? Interviewing two members of my day and age that come from opposite sides, it was nice to see that everyone is different. Even as youths, we still have our own independent beliefs and not everything is determined or set by adults.
The Interview with Mr. Jay Jacinto Grant was also perplexing. It was like talking with a long lost family member and wanting to know where they have been and what’s happened in their life. Seeing that he is a mentor to gay youths, he is definitely an amazing person to look up to. He's a strong man, and having to face discrimination from the time period he grew up in is much different than the discrimination that is around today.
I feel like I’ve experienced the turn of a new leaf by doing this project. I’ve become more aware of the problems that do affect someone’s everyday life. At first, being a heterosexual, I didn’t think I would ever have to deal with the problems that gays do. Being unaccepted by family. Abandoned. Kicked-out. All because of your sexuality. In most cases the reasoning for being against someone’s sexuality is because of religion. But as a religious person, I would understand that you should love everyone. Even the bad things about them.
I used to turn my nose up at the thought of community service. It felt as though you were being forced to
help people. But after stepping down from the clouds and trying it, I
actually felt pretty good afterwards. It was a rewarding feeling and
made me want to do it again. I wasn’t earning anything physical, but
strangely I was okay with it. This project has made me less selfish and
more selfless. It’s made me acknowledge the world and one of the tons of problems it has.
Most of the people I’ve came to about my project were rather shocked at first. They knew the subject was controversial. The first thing I was being asked was “Do you support gay marriage?”. It seems that this question has became a casual phrase in everyday conversation. Mainly because it is one of the discriminatory topics that is frequently discussed by the Church and our government on a daily basis. It never bothered me when someone asked this, but I always took a mental note of who. The question itself is almost a trick question. If you answer yes, you can either get a congratulations, or a side-eye of disappointment. If the answer is no, you can expect complete avoidance from most and get labeled as a homophobic. There are positives and negatives.The world itself, has it’s pending opinions on gay rights. Some will always believe it shouldn’t be, and others will think otherwise. I just wanted this project to make people aware of what is amongst us and the types of people. Everyone has the power to change within themselves. There will always be homophobes, racists and sexists. There is nothing that can be done, but to learn and grow. People will never be fully accepting as whole, there will always be complaints. Even unsatisfaction. But that's what makes the world what it is. We can make it either better, or worse.
I see myself as a person who is still learning, but can be leader as well. Even without a full understanding of most topics in the world, I can still make a huge difference. It’s been one of my goals, in life, not only for this project, to make leave my fingerprint somewhere. Being commonly called a leader has it’s good and bad connotations, but I do prefer to have group collaboration sometimes. Sharing ideas and helping one another can only bring positive things. For most people who are used to doing this on their own, it can be scary. Having to share the attention with others can be anxiety filling. But it’s the things we don’t try that usually benefit us in the long run.
This project was very independent. I was on my own, going in out in the world and making my own decisions as if I were an adult already. Since I was so used to having my parents or a teacher doing all the talking for me, it was nerve wracking having to speak for myself. Many people are good speakers and have fun meeting new people regardless of the situation. But my speaking voice comes from nervousness. When first having to talk with the Attic, I felt like I was walking on eggshells when in reality, the people were really interested in getting to know me. My love for getting to know them grew, and each day I came to visit, I became a little less tense.
away from this project, I definitely will take away a better
understanding of the world itself. Meeting new types of people and being
exposed to a completely alien environment has definitely changed a part
of my mindset. I’ve seen that stepping out of my own element was very
beneficial. I’ve created a bond with people I never would have thought I
would. Just by doing this project, It’s been made clear to my psyche
that everyone is just a human being. The fight for gay rights is another
mark that going to be embedded in history. It’s happening right before
our eyes. But what we need to understand is that, we aren’t going to be
perfect. The only thing I can do, and we as a whole can do, is grow and
learn. Thank you readers for following me on this journey. I hope that from watching me explore the World and some of the things in it, you'll aspire to do the same. And possibly, make a change.