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Bostonia: The Alumni Magazine of Boston University

Winter-Spring 2011 Table of Contents

LGBT Voices: Becoming Myself

Life stories offer messages of hope

| From Commonwealth | By Leslie Friday. Video by Robin Berghaus. Photos by Vernon Doucette
Watch this video on YouTube

Zac Brokenrope (SED’12) is one of many students, faculty, and staff in the LGBT community who shared their stories with Bostonia and BU Today.

Last September alone, the suicides of at least four gay teens made headlines. No doubt there were more that didn’t make the papers and news sites. During the same month, the LGBT advocacy group Campus Pride conducted a nationwide survey of 5,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered college students, faculty, and staff. A quarter of them said they had been harassed for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Dan Savage, a columnist at Seattle’s alternative weekly The Stranger, chose the moment to launch the video series “It Gets Better” with a video of him and his partner talking about the pain of growing up gay and about the point at which their lives got better.

Savage’s site, which invites all people to share their stories, has more than 5,000 videos, posted by members of the LGBT community and straight supporters, and has had millions of visitors.

Inspired by Savage’s project, Bostonia and BU Today invited members of BU’s LGBT community to share their own experiences.

Joe Solmonese (COM’87), president of Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, calls this a “tipping-point moment,” one in which the United States is “poised to really make some very significant strides in matters of LGBT equality.”

“Unfortunately, in those tipping-point moments there’s the greatest resistance,” he says. “We see people empowered to be out and open about who they are and then we see the measures of violence and bullying all of a sudden in a more significant way.”

Solmonese says he appreciates Savage’s project. Growing up in Attleboro, Mass., a place he calls “not diverse or worldly,” he was harassed, teased, and called names for being gay. At BU, he says, he was impressed by the diversity of the University’s student body. “Even though I wasn’t out while I was in school,” Solmonese says, “BU did instill in me that sense that I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be.”

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On 16 March 2011 at 10:16 AM, Jose Antonio Santos wrote:

Zac, voices like yours are needed to raise awareness of the problems that gay kids suffer in the hands of those who are supposed to protect them: friends, family, school. You should post this video on YouTube for the world to hear. My best to you and the BU LGBT community. "Un abrazo" from Puerto Rico.

On 10 March 2011 at 9:49 AM, Dave (SED'81) wrote:

Bravo on the video. Powerful stuff. You should be commended for producing this. And congratulations, Zac. Glad you made it through and defied the intolerance, ignorance and cruelty of your so-called community in Nebraska. You're more a man than your detractors will ever be.

On 9 March 2011 at 7:18 PM, Fernando J. Gutierrez, EdD, JD (SED'81) wrote:

I want to send a hello from Pasadena, CA to the LGBT students, alumni, faculty, and staff. I wanted to share that in 1978, Shoshona Schwartz, EdD and I founded what I think was the first counseling support group for gay men at the Counseling Center at BU while we were both doctoral students in the counseling/community psychology program. Later in 1986 I founded the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns in Counseling, which is now a full division of the American Counseling Association. My latest project is a chapter titled: "Counseling Queer Youth: Preventing Another Matthew Shepard and Gwen Araujo Story" in a book titled: "Youth at Risk", Dave Capuzzi and Donald Gross (eds). American Counseling Association Press, 2008. My domestic partner, John (Northeastern U.), and I are celebrating our thirty-third anniversary in May of this year (It's even better now that when we first met- in church, no less, at MCC Boston! He's my gift from God...). Check out my video on www.gayCULTUREeducation.com Please click on the left: -FOR PARENTS oF GAY PEOPLE

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