Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

From pride to prejudice: exploring the LGBTQ+ experience

Students share challenges of being queer on campus

The LGBTQ+ community at HHS is prevalent through a variety of clubs. Living in a more liberal place tends to create a more neutral atmosphere, as most people are either supporting or indifferent, freshman Rebecca Fitzgerald* said. Fitzgerald said she’s had a really great experience with the pride club, where she gets to hang out with existing friends and make new ones.

Pride Club hosts a variety of social events that bring together the community, GSA president, sophomore Shaurya Prayag said. (Photo by Aviv Matas)

Although the club attempts to make a positive impact on campus by advocating for inclusivity, Prayag said the queer community does not get acknowledged enough due to students and staff brushing off the necessity of the club.

“A lot of people at HHS just exist, and that’s something to respect,” Prayag said. “But I wish more people were in the pride club, I know so many people who would benefit from it.”

Despite pride club’s activism against issues like transphobia and homophobia on campus, such problems are still prevalent on campus, Prayag said. Members have even opened up about their negative experiences on campus to administration, but oftentimes receive little support, Prayag added.

“I really want the people, the staff of HHS to at least understand that this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed,” Prayag said. “Eventually microaggressions can lead the way to something more violent.”

Sophomore Trey Kwon, an aromantic and asexual student, said he noticed that homophobia is more prevalent depending on how visibly queer a student is.

“No one ever asks, they assume everyone is cis and straight,” Kwon said. “When you’re not visibly queer sometimes you hear stuff, [such as] people calling each other gay as an insult. [People are] not looking around [asking,] ‘is there a queer person here?’ Even when you’re standing right next to them, you are not visible.”

Kwon added that it becomes more difficult to find a community without being openly queer. He said he noticed that others, even those who are generally accepting of the LGBTQ+ community with slogans, such as “Love is Love,” tend to isolate aromantic and asexual people.

“I told someone, ‘Oh, I’ve never had a crush,’” Kwon said. “They [said], ‘but what if you’re gay?’ [To them] being gay or [bisexual] is easier to understand than being aromantic or asexual.”

Freshman Silver Yuan said that as a nonbinary person, they had similar experiences with others choosing to support LGBTQ+ students conditionally.

“I’ve had some experiences with students who [say things like,] ‘I’m a huge ally, I’m really pro LGBTQ, but only if you identify as [certain things] and you don’t use [a certain] label,’” Yuan said. [They also say] ’don’t ask me to change anything about how I refer to you and you do not go under a different name or anything that would inconvenience me in any way.’”

Likewise, sophomore Viv Graham said he has been called a variety of names, some of which are not accurate. To be more respectful, Graham said students should lend an ear to queer students every now and then to understand their experiences. Even though the school system does a good job educating students on respecting the LGBTQ+ community, Graham said many are still ignorant of the topics being presented.

“I really wish students would listen when people talk.” Graham said. “A lot of times students don’t listen [when the pride community shares] their experiences.”

While Fitzgerald said the majority of students are respectful, instances where she has been told passive-aggressive comments still create an uncomfortable atmosphere.

“Homophobia can be little things,” Fitzgerald said. “While one little thing doesn’t hurt, seeing those little things from people all around you everyday can be awful because it shows that the people around you don’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like to be you, so they fear and dislike you.”

To foster a more welcoming learning environment, Prayag said she wishes for everyone to understand and respect the LGBTQ+ community by using the correct pronouns, or learning about their experiences.

“Being trans or being gay isn’t a choice that we make. It’s something that’s a part of us,” Prayag said. “Being bisexual is a part of my day, that’s not something that can change. That’s something [everyone] needs to know to be able to interact with people in a positive way.”

*-This student has asked to go by a different name since she is not out to her parents

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About the Contributors
Parker Lin
Parker Lin, Reporter
Parker is a sophomore and is a first-year reporter on The Epitaph. In their free time, they enjoy writing, reading and playing on the soccer team. Parker is excited to share their writing and tell the stories of HHS.
Aviv Matas
Aviv Matas, Reporter
Aviv is a freshman and a new reporter. This year, Aviv is excited to learn about the HHS community and sharpen her writing skills. In her free time, Aviv enjoys painting poorly, reading, playing with her two cats and spending time with family and friends.

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