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Extra Credit: Meet The New Class Of LGBT Student Activists


School is back in session for millions of young people, and in classrooms and campuses across the country, a new generation of young LGBT and allied activists are proudly fighting for their rights. These young whippersnappers aren’t just plugging into established organizations like GLSEN and the Trevor Project. They’re creating new peer-led entities from scratch.

All this week, Queerty is introducing you to inspiring young individuals who are advancing equality in the classroom and beyond. We’d call them the leaders of tomorrow, but as one puts it, “We’re making change right now!”

Below, meet the first two young activists who we think truly deserve to go to the head of the class. And check back for more profiles all this month.

Have an outstanding young ally you’d like to praise? Drop us a note in the comments section!

 

 

Alex Horsey, 16
Portland, OR

An incoming senior at Wilson High School, Alex Horsey founded Project Believe In Me (PBIM) last November, a nonprofit that seeks to address youth suicides by soliciting and sharing  letters and videos from those affected by bullying and harassment.

Out since he was 12-years-old, Horsey says the campaign “stemmed from my own experiences in sixth grade, when the harassment became so terrible that I began to change my light-blue Converse shoes on the school bus to the more ‘gender-approved’ black to prevent mean comments from happening again.” While he acknowledges Portland is incredibly progressive, to the point that “we can move past gay marriage and DADT and start discussing more ‘advanced’ queer issues [like] trans-inclusive healthcare and immigration rights,” Horsey says bullying is still a local concern.

Granted funds by a City of Portland Youth Action Grant in June, PBIM has already held one event and plans to roll out a series of anti-bullying posters to be distributed in Portland schools, as well as the album Songs For Project Believe in Me.

Horsey, who serves on the National Do Something Youth Advisory Council, is also president of his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, vice president of the Oregon Lutheran Youth Organization Board, and an editor for his school’s newspaper, among his many extracurricular activities. “No matter how well-intended the phrase ‘Youth are the leaders of tomorrow!’ is, it’s inaccurate,” he says. “Youth are the leaders of today. We’re making change right now.”

Jason Galisatus, 18
Redwood City, CA

To say that Jason Galisatus is “acting out” is high praise indeed: A singer and thespian, he came out to his family and became involved with the Aragon High School Gay-Straight Alliance as a freshman.

A year later, he was president.

But while being out so early was empowering, he admits it also resulted in bullying and lost friends. “Many of my close friends knew me from my days in the closet,” he told KQED Radio, “and noticed how I changed from the shy, nerdy half-Asian boy, to a fabulous and powerful queen.”

In December 2010, while still a junior, Galisatus co-founded the Bay Area Youth Summit, an organization to bring together LGBT youth, allies and adults to “stand up to bullying in schools.” Among Galisatus’ other accomplishments, BAYS is the country’s first LGBT youth-led organization to earn  501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

The first BAYS conference took place on April 23, 2011, and featured speakers like Cleve Jones, youth activist Graeme Taylor and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Delta Werk.  The coming school year will see a launch party/fundraiser on September 14, as well as a GSA Day of Action, in which local Gay-Straight Alliances team up with regional LGBT organizations; the Middle School Safety Initiative, which educates educators and staff on how to maintain safe environments for LGBT students; and a biannual summit.

While guiding queer youth toward a safe future, Galisatus—now a freshman at Stanford—is also making sure they recognize their past: As a host of the documentary series The Pye/Harris Project, he interviewed Phyllis Lyon, the founder of early lesbian organization the Daughters of Bilitis. We bet he got an A in history!

By:           Lawrence Ferber
On:           Sep 4, 2012
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • 8 Comments
    • Mae
      Mae

      Blake Danford from Fullerton, CA :) here’s an article featuring him on Huffington Post!
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-danford/from-bullied-gay-teen-to-anti-bullying-activist_b_1662490.html

      Sep 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alex Horsey
      Alex Horsey

      I’m so grateful to have been included in this piece. Thank you, Lawrence and Queerty!

      To hear more about Project Believe in Me and our programs, including how you can help make our one-for-one compilation album happen, like us on Facebook! Facebook.com/ProjectBelieveInMe

      Sep 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      I believe that the gay-straight at public schoolsis a good idea. These kind of outreach programs are a positive thing. What puzzles mw is when i hear liberals scorn other outreach groups like the log cabin republicans.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 11:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Goforit
      Goforit

      @brent: Log Cabin RepubliCONs an outreach group? LOL. You should go into standup comedy Brent. You would be far more successful than trolling sites like these.

      Sep 5, 2012 at 2:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kurtlan
      Kurtlan

      Encouraging, spotlighting, and creating space for young leaders in the LGBTQ community is fantastic! I’d urge you to check out http://www.bagly.org and contact them to find out about what LGBTQ youth are doing in Massachusetts! BAGLY is a youth-led, adult-supported organization that was formed by LGBTQ youth in 1980.

      Sep 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Derek Williams
      Derek Williams

      Amazing and wonderful. A dream that as a teenager, I never thought could possibly come true.

      Sep 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • KEITH
      KEITH

      Way to go. No child any where should ever be bullied under any circumstance. We are a world of one people….human. I never thought I would see all the progress in the LGBT COMMUNITY in my life time, but it is as I should be…..equal for all. Thank you Queerty for the article and all the kids that represent it.

      Sep 6, 2012 at 7:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Quentin
      Quentin

      Rock on. Now what are we gonna do to ensure they don’t become us?

      Sep 6, 2012 at 9:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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