Holden Moose is a guest writer through QueerNC’s student submission program. He is a high school student and GSA organizer in North Carolina.
My name is Holden and I’m seventeen years old. I live in a small town, well practically a street, called Bunn. That’s right, Bunn, not Dunn (which is what most people like to confuse it with). Though I’ve never actually been to Dunn, I’m pretty sure our abundance of confederate flags waving from the backs of big trucks really set us apart from the other city.
Enough about the town, though, let’s focus on the actual school I attend. In sophomore year, a friend of mine talked to a teacher and worked on starting up a Gay-Straight Alliance at our school. The constant anti-LGBT rhetoric being heard in the hallways made it obvious that it wouldn’t be a widely accepted club, which gave us an even bigger reason to start it. Our goal was to educate our fellow classmates and ourselves, along with creating a safe and inclusive environment for queer students and their allies.
It was suggested by our adviser that we keep it on the down low for a few weeks as we set up the club. That meant that the majority of the club members were mostly our friends. The first few meetings were spent electing officers and figuring out ways to get the word out about our club. After much preparation, our adviser asked if we wanted to start putting up posters to advertise our club.
Splitting up into small groups allowed us to make our own unique posters, along with one large poster made by the adviser. After the meeting dedicated to creating posters, we put them up along the halls. I remember everybody being much more frightened than me. They expected such a bad reaction, when honestly, I didn’t think the reactions of the other students would be that bad. Seriously, what could be the worst thing they could do?
So, it’s obvious I wasn’t expecting the immediate change in the school’s atmosphere. I saw students reading the posters and then nudging their friend, only to laugh. “Oh, it’s some gay club!” I heard; it was like they completely disregarded the alliance aspect of it. Though, it only got worse. A couple days later someone had the idea to tear our posters down. It was bad enough hearing jokes about the club in the classroom (with no teacher actually defending the club), but now our hard work was being torn down. Students would draw on the posters and write derogatory terms or even the confederate flag. I’d see our posters crumbled up on the floor or even in the trash can. Our large poster was ripped by many students, yet it still remained hanging on the wall.
Word spread that the wrestling students had torn down all the posters and the coach was hiding them in his classroom. Not sure of the validity of that last statement, but wrestling students were caught on camera and sent to the office. Many students had posted mean things about the club on social media and even tried to argue with the club’s twitter account, so one of the officers took screenshots and took that up to the office, too. Unfortunately, they couldn’t (well, really wouldn’t) suspend the athletes because it would take them off the team. So, that made queer students like me feel even more unsafe. Not even our own school was on our side!
Luckily, we continued our club despite talk that spread about parents signing some petition to take it down. We read about our rights and decided to stop worrying so much about the rumors surrounding the club. We got a new administration team next semester, a team that really loved our club and took more action to keep it alive. Despite the continuous anti-LGBT+ phrases we hear in the hallways, our club itself has made a difference in the school. The fact that it’s still standing and even got a place in the yearbook showed students that we were here and not going anywhere. Attendance has sky-rocketed since, and I’m even the president this semester. Overall the club has been a huge success, even after a few bumps in the road.