Board Advisor Chris Chevallier shares her story
I came out at the ripe old age of 27. Back when I was growing up (‘60’s and ‘70’s) one didn’t talk much about being Queer. We had no role models and certainly didn’t know any of “those” people. I remember talking about gay guys but never really discussed lesbians. I always knew I was “different”, but wasn’t sure what that meant exactly. I did know that I didn’t particularly like men – their energy put me off and I really didn’t like dating all that much though did enough so I could “fit in” with my peers.
I noticed several years ago that young people seemed to be coming out with more ease. It has been a bit more socially acceptable and we now have role models all around us. Pride celebrations have helped as have celebrities coming out. I envied kids who were brave enough to come out in high school. Over-all, I figured they were having a much easier time of it than in previous generations.
And then I started hearing about the suicides. And bullying. Oh sure – we had bullies too in school but nothing on the scale that we hear of today. Every time a Queer kid committed suicide, I cried. Probably about 2 years ago, there was a string of suicides of young gay guys in the US. That pretty much did me in.
I have been a social activist all my life, advocating on behalf of abused women, women in general, people living in poverty, the list goes on and on. I’ve been lucky enough to work in a social activist field all my adult life. I realized that I needed to do something, anything to help Queer kids out there. At the risk of sounding trite, I needed them to know that things do “get better”. I “consulted” with some young adults I know and they felt that while my aspirations were admirable, kids didn’t need to hear from an old woman like me!!! (I’m 55!) I looked around my community to see what was happening here and came up empty. I found a group on-line that turned out to be based in London England. When I contacted them, they referred me to Jer’s Vision!
While I am not working directly with the kids, I am supporting the work of amazingly talented young people who are getting out there and talking about bullying. They are talking to the bullies and showing Queer kids across the country that someone cares about them. I feel proud to be linked to such an organization and will do whatever I can to help.