Jay Guercio, 16, New York
I am Jay, and this is my story…. For almost two years now my life has been significantly impacted by my involvement with the LGBT community. Long Island Gay And Lesbian Youth [LIGALY/the center] is where it all began; the moment I walked through those doors, I knew LIGALY would change my life. The center has aided me into becoming the Leader and Activist that I am today.
I began attending programming at the center around march of 2012. Each program had something different to offer. There was never a day wasted at the center. I learned more about the community I was involved in, whether it was regarding sexual health, Identities, Advocacy, LGBT rights, LGBT news, or anything else; but the most important thing I learned about, was myself. LIGALY inspired me to get involved elsewhere, so I joined my schools G.S.A, and brought LGBT topics with me wherever I went.
Sometimes I ask myself, “who would I be without the LGBT community?” I honestly do not know; I’d probably be a less compassionate and understanding person. Getting involved was the best decision I ever made, it made me a better person. The LGBT community opened my mind. I’ve learned so much more about how one can identify and the types of relationships one can have. I learned that it was okay to be me, and it’s okay for everyone else just to be who they are, as long as they’re not hurting anyone else. I’ve gained so many opportunities through my involvment, I’ve met Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the house and advocate for same sex marriage, along with Edie Windsor, who went against the federal government regarding the defense of marriage act. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life, I even have this group of friends called the gaytatoes, because we’re all LGBT Identified/Friendly potato lovers. Some of the best moments of my life have come from LGBT events, such as Dyke March NYC 2013, GLBT Proms, and LI-GLBT Gala’s.
My identity as a Gender-Fluid Pan-Romantic Lesbian, has influenced my life both positively, and negatively. I can’t say that I’ve ever been harassed for my identity, or that the people in my life aren’t accepting; I’m very lucky for that. The only negative thing would be that, my life is going to be a bit harder than some, because of how much I have to fight for change & inclusivity; but I’m okay with that because it has become a passion of mine. If I were to make a list of all the social change I would like to make, it would go on for hundreds of pages. The best I can do is to be educated, and educate others.
I’m very appreciative for all that the community has given to me, they reached out with open arms, took me under their wings, and told me that everything was okay. There is so much love and support in the community, I just wish everyone could see that.