Doing “Ask a Queer” at San Marcos High School was easier than DPHS because we were able to arrange visitor passes in advanced. This went smoothly even after we ended up delaying “Ask a Queer” by one week in an effort to get more people, as requested by the GSA adviser. We ended up going on Wednesday May 22nd and this time it was myself and five other queer students from UCSB. This time I was able to get an extra driver so we were able to have an extra person.
This time we got to the school early and waited patiently until lunch started. A few minutes after the bell we introduced ourselves and had them do the same. We began by discussing some tips about how to organize students groups in an attempt to keep their GSA going despite seniors graduating and the teacher who advises the GSA retiring after this year. Next we ensured them that existence is resistance and encouraged them to keep the GSA even if they are discouraged by smaller turnout and less events. After that we further broke the ice by sharing some personal stories and they began to ask tougher questions regarding coming out of the closet, calling friends out for hurtful and insensitive language, and dealing with openly homophobic family and friends. The group of students who participated in this “Ask a Queer” had many personal stories about tough times coming out and dealing with negative reactions from friends and family. The collective message was that not coming out is a perfectly fine option if it is strategic and desired by the individual, especially if they fear coming out will endanger them. That sometimes friends feelings don’t change but in asking more from them we can find people who respect our wishes and respect our values instead of tolerating those who do not. We acknowledged that negative reactions from family can affect things like tuition and housing while acknowledging that just being in college is a privilege. To not be entirely grim we did emphasize that alternative kinship exists and can be at times more fulfilling then our given families. We also through our presence and undertones of our message showed that even while it can be tough being queer in college it can be done and it can be fun! We showed that other people’s negative reactions to our queerness could be both slowly degrading over time and oddly strengthening as through activism, including survival, we can not only resist that which we disagree with but also empower ourselves in the process.