Positivity and Greatness, Keys to Inspiring Your Community
April 8, 2011 § 12 Comments
Teeming with new experiences, new friends, and new dreams, my past two weekends consisted of an official visit to Georgetown University for track and a weekend spent with my student council friends at LEAD (a national leadership conference for teens.) 4 weeks ago, I would not expect to experience flying rubber chickens, a distance run with my potential future teammates, and the joy of teaching a workshop; three experiences I would never trade for the world. But as I reflect upon my recent ventures, I wonder what made them so great in hindsight when compared to a friend’s depressing recent venture into his school’s GSA for the first time – a club made to benefit him! Why do I smile at the thought of attending school in DC, or burst out laughing when remembering a leadership conference while my friend cringes at the thought of a GSA? What it comes down to is community, especially what type of community you want to be.
While visiting Georgetown I met with two coaches and probably over half of the boys track team after driving onto the campus with a current Freshman runner. We breezed through Georgetown, skating the typical picturesque locations till we reached the athletic quarters – a gym which fulfills it’s intended purpose but is not as aesthetically alluring as the main educational center whose stone walls and wooden doors reign politefully the whole of Georgetown. But surrounding my entrance into Georgetown was an air of potential excellence which I thrive off of. I felt as if I could be great academically and athletically at Georgetown, though I did not necessarily feel at home. Which is one piece of community every GSA needs and an understanding that every attendee should internalize.
A GSA should be a place where greatness can blossom, whether it’s in activism or friendship, understanding or safety. If a GSA is not enabling greatness for it’s members than there is no point in having it. As simply as a GSA may seem, it can be the first step in completely turning someone’s life around and should be viewed as such. We should be communities which embody this potential and lend it to others for it is essential to our future!
Nevertheless, when first attending a GSA – we shouldn’t expect for it to feel right immediately. We may not have a warm and fuzzy feeling, an internal calm which shines through with smiles on our faces – I didn’t with Georgetown and I didn’t when I entered my first GSA sponsored activity, but both of these situations weren’t “bad” nor were they wrong for me. They merely were not romanticized versions of the truth, which is what I imagine my friend was expecting, and that is okay.
One weekend later, I entered the grand room of a hotel in Stamford Connecticut where I was immediately embraced in the warmest of hugs and shouted at energetically from across the hall. Please note, this is not a romanticized retelling but indeed the truth! Student Council conferences are known to be filled with energy and an openness which is unparalleled! A few hours later rubber chickens were flung into the air above over a thousand sitting student leaders, and nearly hit one of my friends who was subsequently chosen to participate in an event taking place on stage with our world renowned guest speaker. The crowed cheered for him immediately though they knew very little of him and supported him till the end with positive chants and claps.
It is this positive energy which we should embody! Whether or not we know someone’s back story, when they show up into our GSA we should welcome them joyfully and support them fervently. When they participate and represent us in any activity, be it a sport, a play, or an academic team – they deserve our support! This needn’t be a rosy, overly glorified description of a GSA but the defining columns which support a GSA as a beacon of hope!
As much as I hate to say it, in my high school exists animosity between various gay guys for no point whatsoever. You would imagine we would bond together with the understanding of what each of us has faced, and some of us do, always reaching out our hands to help those who may go by unnoticed and ridiculed. Others resent stereotypical gay guys while some exemplify the negative stereotypes of cattiness and perversion. What we need is to put aside our differences and support the people who need our help and cheer them on when they’re attempting to accomplish something great, for if we don’t – we the people who may best understand what they’re going through, who will?
I can only imagine that if my friend’s GSA had enabled greatness and energetically supported it’s newest, most unknown members, that anyone who attended would return time and time again.
Each of us has the potential to inspire our community to act differently, to spur on greatness like Georgetown or to grow positivity endlessly like a student council conference. Through our actions we impress upon our peers an image of what we find acceptable, what we hope they should do, therefor we should strive to be the change we wish to see! A wise man once said, when you dare to be great – you allow others around you to do the same.
I dare my community to be great and positive. What do you dare yours to be?