Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
December 16, 2011
A Young Student Getting Acquainted With Her Local LGBT Community
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
We have a guest blogger this week, a high school senior who chose Belinda to be her guide for her senior project. With only the lightest of editorial touches we’ll let her tell her story.
My Week With Belinda.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Lynda Nguyen-Le and I am currently a senior at Irvington High School [in Fremont, CA]. Whenever students in my high school become seniors, we face one of the biggest milestones of our academic careers. We have a yearlong senior benchmark project called QUEST (QUestion Experience Service Testimony) in which we chose a topic and a social issue associated with it. I chose gay rights and discrimination because of my background with it. I connected with Belinda in what seemed like one of the most momentous events of my life, she introduced me to the GLBT community. This details the valuable experience I’ve gained with her so far.
Awhile back, I connected with Mark Nelson of Ohlone College [in Fremont, CA], the overseer of the GSA club at Ohlone College at Belinda’s referral. Belinda and I attended an open club meeting together on a Thursday evening. Running a bit late because I was extremely lost and wandering around the campus looking for Smith center, I finally burst into the room short breathed and flustered to meet many questioning eyes. The room was filled with about 20 people including ourselves with a diversity that befits the Bay Area.
For an hour and a half, there was a wide ranging group conversation on many issues and topics dealing with anything gay in general. We discussed anything from college papers to clubbing at gay bars to parents’ reactions to coming out to dealing with curious and offensive queries from curious people. Laughter ensued. The personalities of the people attending filled the room with a warm and light atmosphere that I thought I’d never feel regarding my own sexuality. The acceptance and open minds they gifted me with allowed me to be more open and truthful about my own sexuality to people more than I’ve ever been privileged to in my entire life. This experience was extremely cathartic and opened my eyes to the possibilities of this ever-changing world. Never in my life did I ever think that a room full of strangers will look at me with nothing but acceptance and tolerance in their eyes.
The second highlight of my week was another event that Belinda referred me to, the Youth Leadership Summit at the DeFrank center in San Jose last Friday. It was an intimate gathering with members of GSA clubs and other young gay rights activists from the Bay Area, mostly San Jose and its neighboring cities. We kicked off the evening with some icebreakers to get everyone talking and comfortable with each other, playing silly games to losing up the tension. That was followed by a presentation on starting up a gay rights club or strengthening an already existing club with a very adorable tree analogy. Then following a relaxed dinner, a brief history on a whole slew of famous people believed to be or are gay. I found the evening very inspirational and informative as well as fun.
That week for me really showed me many things. I learned that stepping out of my comfort zone is definitely worth it and that I shouldn’t have doubted the world because there are people like Belinda out there making waves and ripples of change.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org