“When I was in high school in the early 90s, I was close friends with several gay males. I was rattled to learn that annually nationwide, roughly 30% of completed youth suicides were carried out by gay youth, and 26% of gay youth were forced out of their homes due to conflicts that arose over their sexuality. Responding to those alarming statistics in 1992, Massachusetts Governor Weld established The Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. That’s when I began advocating for human rights. I presented the Weld administration’s published report announcing the creation of The Commission to the faculty of Westboro High School as a senior in 1993.
In college I continued acting as an advocate for the LGBTQ community by joining my school’s gay/straight alliance as an ally. It wasn’t until later in life that I considered my own sexuality. As a parent and an educator, I recognized that if I expected those around me to believe in themselves and follow their hearts, I had to set that example by embracing my gay identity.
Carolyn, the photographer, asked me why I chose to participate in this project. It throws me completely outside of my comfort zone. I forced myself to sign up and refused many urges to cancel because the importance of this message is so great. My participation is about the message. It’s not about me.
The headstone of Leonard Matlovich, a gay Vietnam veteran Technical Sergeant, reads “When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” If by sharing this powerful sentiment along with my story touches one person, then I’ve done my job.
Thank you, Carolyn, for giving the LGBTQ community this opportunity and platform. Happy Pride! ” – Julie
Learn the warning signs, the facts, and how you can help prevent suicide – https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/
If you would like to see more of Julie’s photos visit https://www.sparkzphotoz.com/
Name: Julie Walker