“The most successful people are the ones that build a strong foundation with the bricks that others throw at them.”
John F. Kennedy Middle College High School’s GSA had about 6 consistent members last year. After visiting one of the club’s meetings, I realized what the GSA lacked in numbers they easily made up for with passion; a need to create an accepting unified campus. Yet, their peers agreed that while acceptance was certainly necessary, there just wasn’t a bullying problem at JFK.
A year later, three members of the GSA were nominated and approved by the district to run for prom royalty. Twins Vanessa and Elizabeth Landeros had their hearts set on King and Queen, respectively, and David Crown for King. With the posters being printed and pasted to the school walls, prom session was in full swing and the competition was rearing with excitement.
Then Vanessa and Elizabeth’s prom posters were destroyed. The GSA’s rainbow flag was ripped to shreds. The day before prom, David’s poster was found soaked in the restroom, with his straight running mate’s face left dry.
It’s on this day I returned to John F. Kennedy Middle College High School. As I entered the GSA meeting, I was shocked. The meeting was packed; last year’s numbers had increased four fold. I admittedly expected to meet with disappointed students, but the ones I faced were proud and hopeful. David, Vanessa, and Elizabeth were determined not just to continue running, but to win Prom royalty and show their school that the bullying had only made them more proud.
“You think you’re hurting me? You’re not. You think it’s funny? It’s not. You think you’re cool? Definitely not. What you did only make me stronger. It lets me know that you use your time wisely to think about me, my sister, and David. Us gay people have the heart of a warrior and will stand up for our rights. All we bring to this world is love and your hate can’t defeat that.”
And then there was the surprise. The school’s student leadership became proud allies, teachers vigilant, and even the quietest students reached out to express their solidarity. Their peers responded with encouragement, and David’s new posters expressed support for Vanessa and Elizabeth. The GSA’s voice grew to muffle that of the vocal minority. What began as three students reaching for a crown became a movement for LGBTQ pride and against bullying.
And then they won.
Congratulations to Vanessa and Elizabeth, the first twin lesbian Prom King and Queen. You made it better!
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project shares a story about overcoming bullying.