Q: Tell us about your time at smyal:
A: I was recently coming to terms of myself and who I was. I come from a very conservative (Asian) family, where homosexuals are frowned upon. Luckily I had an amazing cousin who was also gay. She found SMYAL and pushed me through those doors. I remember everybody looking at me as I blushed. But the stares were not judgment it was more welcoming with a little bit of curiosity of who I was. I later got comfortable with everyone and started to be myself around them. It was very strange after hiding myself for so long, to finally express who I was without any care. I learned so many things from the bunch of groups I attended, with people who were looking for acceptance like I was. Although I wasn’t flexible enough to do it, “vogue’ing” was a thing I loved to watch my peers do (looked painful though). There were so many different types of people there, from the loud, obnoxious extroverts, to the quiet shadow of an introvert. The status quo did not apply to these people. They made their own standards: everyone was who they were and not to be judged by them. It’s because of SMYAL that I came out of the cocoon to become the social butterfly that I am. I applied for the mentorship in the program and got it. I learned so much from that program. The LGBTQ+A community are my family. And just like a family they are there for you. You accept them for who they are.
Q: Where are you now?
A: Right now I am going to college for RN nursing in hopes to one day become an anesthesiologist. I was also one of the first people to create a [Gay-Straight Alliance] in my city. Over 120 people showed up in my first meeting! It was overwhelming, but from what I learned in the SMYAL mentoring program, I was able to teach my peers about bullying and anti gay slurs and how we can prevent them. As of right now, I am in the process of making another GSA in my college, I just need to find the time between two jobs and being a full time student. But I’ll get there with the help of my friends and mentors that I have met throughout my life here in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Q: What advice would you give current smyal youth?
A: Don’t ever give up! You are the most person person in your life. Don’t let some guy/girl make you think otherwise! Find your friends who accept you for who you are. And if they don’t accept it, then they weren’t your friends to begin with. So what if you are gay, bi, or lesbian? That is just a tiny detail about you. You could also be a straight “A” student or an amazing piano player. Or sing/act really well! Focus on things you do well, not the flaws you have—cause at the end of the night, you have yourself. You’re just an amazing person! Don’t you forget it! Love yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think.