By Payton Nugent, VI Form
More Important Than My Fear
Do you really think anyone cares?
During my announcement to the school, I hear this lone internal voice.
What you’re trying to do is stupid and doesn’t matter.
I have tried to shake this voice from my head, but it keeps coming back. During every announcement I make for the Gender Sexuality Alliance, that voice represents every student who is rolling his or her eyes. That voice represents every student who thinks issues of gender identity and sexuality are nonexistent because “there are no gay people at St. Mark’s.” For some, I will never be able to change their minds. Whenever I make these announcements, I wonder why I run for head of the GSA if this voice is always pestering me.
I remember when I received the email announcing that the GSA was looking for new co-heads, and as I pondered what to write my application essay about, I recalled every instance when I felt alone. Most of these occurrences were when I was younger and someone who I thought was my best friend stopped talking to me and in some cases turned my other friends against me. I knew that my examples were petty compared to those of someone who had been shunned or disowned for being gay, but loneliness is an emotion to which almost anyone can relate. Being rejected can make a person feel like they have no one at all. Isolation in any form is a terrible state. No one deserves to feel that way. I made a promise to myself to remedy anyone’s loneliness that I could, and I did that through the GSA.
I became head of the GSA to make my school a more comfortable and welcoming environment. My co-heads and I were wildly successful. We set up an anonymous group chat for the LGBT+ community. Before that year, the only recent examples of LGBT+ students were a girl and a boy who had graduated a year earlier. By the end of the year, there were at least ten open students who identified as part of the LGBT+ community. We created a network that made them feel supported and connected to others sharing the same experiences. We created a space in which these students knew they were not alone.
Whenever I stand up to make a GSA announcement, I still get nervous. I know that not everyone cares the way I do. That voice is still a constant reminder of my fears as well as the resistance of others. That voice isn’t something I can change or destroy, it’s just something I have to push through. No matter how loud or large that voice seems though, I will push through, because it is worth it. Someone else’s comfort and sense of belonging is more important than my fear of being doubted or judged.
Payton Nugent is a VI former from Bellingham, MA. As well as a passionate LGBT rights advocate, she also loves acting, performing, and playing basketball.