NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

GSA OPENS UP

The transition from a nation that was closeted and homophobic to the now nationwide recognized same-sex marriage law was a resilient and passionate road and still is for many in the LGBTQ community.
For NECC students they’re continuing the fight and not just for the injustices in the transgender society but for the correct information to be established so there’s no discrepancies.
Every Friday, GSA meets in B105 from 12-1 p.m. to discuss topics in the LGBTQ community. The first meeting of the semester described the arduous task that is coming out and the internal struggle it really is.
The everyday fight of trying to have some feeling of normalcy in what is the perceived “normal” is a challenge for anyone to overcome.
Feeling like you have to have a battle within yourself everyday to project a false reality to your friends and family is a paradox but to get to finally accept who you are is the most important thing.
Colby Patrie, President of the GSA, joined NECC in the Fall of 2014 as someone who was not typically outgoing in a big group, but once he feels comfortable everything comes out. You get the goofy, happy, warm spirited personality that is hard not to like. Deep down he’s a fighter and “always wanted to be an activist” and even started the first GSA club at the Georgetown Middle High School that is still running since 2011. Once he got to NECC, he wanted to work his way up the ranks in the club until becoming president this semester.
Patrie believes in fighting for what’s right and is always working to support that sentiment. He puts in his homework when it comes to his information using his free time to work on his own research papers dealing with issues surrounding the community. “I found my calling,” Patrie says.
Like anyone though Patrie had to find himself first before really taking any major steps in his life. The questions were always there especially when middle school started and so began the difficult task of putting up that false reality for his peers. He felt that it needed to be done so the talking could come to a halt. When high school started the same thing occurred, people started talking again about his sexual orientation. To calm the news this time he started dating a boy and at the time he identified as a female and this was what was expected. At the time he thought everything would be fine, except for the fact that this wasn’t who he was. After going through multiple relationships he came to the conclusion that he can’t keep doing this to himself and the other party. The next step was finally clear that he should come out to himself which was a relief for him.
The pressure started coming back when it came to letting his parents know. It was a strenuous task to say the least, which created “knots” in his stomach. He decided that the best idea was to write a letter and wait for a response. Thankfully his parents were welcoming to the fact that he was gay and still accepted him for who he was. Although when his mother said that “she will always be her baby girl” it made his skin want to crawl, he added. After doing some research he realized what the issue was. He never felt accepted around the fact that he identified as a female and realized that had to change. So he had to go through the whole process again except this time it was a different fight. He was worried how his parents would accept switching gender as “their only girl,” Patrie explains. This is where the dynamic between his parents became complicated. His father has been understanding and accommodating to the transition, making sure to use proper pronouns and using his new name instead of his birth name, while his mother still continues to go about things like nothing has changed. He says it’s going to be her problem though especially, “when I have a big beard and a deep voice it’s going to be her issue introducing me as her daughter,” he went on to say.
For transgender people it’s a difficult process because they basically have to come out twice at times and even then the gay community isn’t always excepting as you’d expect them to be. Some in the community lag behind when it comes to supporting the rights of transgender people. There’s a generalization labeling all gay men have to act feminine and that all lesbians dress in lumberjack shirts. That’s why Patrie wants to show though “that everyone has a story.”
He opened the first meeting by showing a slideshow on ways to make coming out easier for anyone that is still struggling with coming out. The first thing mentioned was that “you have to come out to yourself first” you have to accept that, he went on to say.  “Stare yourself in the mirror and just say, I’m gay, if you need to.”
Patrie mentioned you should have outlets to go to when you come out officially. Essentially it’s your backup plan, have somewhere set up to where you can go “if things go south.” This can be a friend’s house, youth group, a specific hotline for help or a homeless shelter which some even specialize in LGBTQ youth. Sadly, some of our closest acquaintances won’t be that accepting of our lifestyle sometimes based on misinformation and sometimes on ignorance.
There’s plenty of ways to come out, but you choose what’s right for you, Patrie says. You can write a letter, have a family meeting, do it over a phone call or even Skype if you wanted.
However what’s crucial is that you do it in a setting that’s most comfortable for you, he goes on to say.
If you’re uncomfortable starting the conversation, it’s okay, there’s different ways to do it. Patrie showed easier ways to bridge the gap to help the awkwardness that can occur between a child and their parents. So why not start from a third party perspective and mention that a mutual friend came out and see how they react to the news. The general anxiety most individuals feel is that they’re not going to be accepted by their family and that their parents will have lost their son or daughter due to their sexuality. If this is you, you’re not alone.
If you know someone who hasn’t come out yet do not push them into it, Patrie says. “It’s just rude.” They may not be ready or they’re still figuring out themselves and aren’t sure how to identify within themselves. Another thing is that they could be living in a homophobic household where there isn’t any sort of discussions on the matter. The last thing he went over was that “you never know who is listening” and that you should be careful about the setting you discuss your personal business in. You never know how people will react, there could be violent threats towards that individual that could lead to physical aggression. In many cases it’s best to leave someones sexual orientation out of everyday discussion because it’s no ones business but their own.

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