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The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

October 2023 Centerspread

For All of Us: National Coming Out Day’s message of perseverance and pride
October+2023+Centerspread

“Why do we even need to come out?”
Even as we celebrated National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, that was, and is, the question being posed by countless LGBTQ+ people exhausted from continuously being forced to affirm their own identities. In a world where children are told “pink is for girls, blue is for boys,” men are told to “man up” and questions of “are you actually gay?” abound, there is no question as to why that is the case.
Yes, perhaps the days of being openly called slurs and persecuted just for our existence may be past in the United States. But, the queer community still isn’t considered “the default.” We are the outliers, the “gay best friend,” the “one with the pronouns.” We are not “normal.” LGBTQ+ people—7% of the U.S. population and 20% of Generation Z—are relegated to peculiarity, reduced to nothing more than ostracized spectacles for the world to see.
Many perceive the fight over queer rights to be over. But, the fact that there exists the very expectation of heterosexuality and the gender binary speaks to the yet incomplete nature of this fight.
National Coming Out Day is both a solemn acknowledgment of this reality and a radiant celebration of the queer community. Whatever your journey as a queer person in 2023 is—out or not, sure of your identity or just beginning your journey of discovery, amid struggle or celebrating a new union—this day is the celebration of you.
An embodiment of this empowering spirit on Northwood’s campus is the Genders and Sexualities Alliance. GSA, led by president senior Theo Krzeminski, serves as a community where queer identity is celebrated without judgment.
“The GSA is a safe space for all people, regardless of gender or sexuality,” Krzeminski said. “Everyone is welcome as they are.”
According to a study published in the National Institute of Medicine, students in schools with GSAs are less likely to feel unsafe, hear homophobic remarks or experience homophobic victimization. To Northwood’s LGBTQ+ community, GSA’s presence is both affirming and an anchor point of security.
“I think our school having a GSA club provides an awesome opportunity and place where LGBTQ students can feel totally comfortable and authentic,” junior Julie Heninger said. “The GSA really encourages an affirming environment for queer students and helps staff members promote a more inclusive environment.”
It is not just student groups, either. Across campus, you can witness “safe space” signs, affirming counseling groups for trans and non-binary students and supportive staff members willing to lend an ear to help students in many forms.
“My main role as a teacher is to be a protective agent for students,” health teacher Brooke Leys-Campeau said. “It is a priority for me to intentionally create a safe space, and safe space signage reinforces that.”
Despite these strides in fostering an affirming school environment, the reality is that many queer students often feel uncomfortable, undermined or even unsafe due to hostile situations and exchanges at school.
“I’ve spent time at many schools, and Northwood seems to be one of the most affirming of queer students,” freshman Thaine Moeller said. “Yet, I still witness many LGBTQ+ students being singled out and harassed for merely embracing their true selves—especially when they are alone, be it in hallways or deserted open areas.”
Hostilities against queer people, in whatever form, are best combated by visibility; and there is nothing more visible than existing as we are, unwilling to be diminished in the face of bigotry. National Coming Out Day is a continuation of this defining feature of the community; it is a testament to our spirit, a reminder of milestones achieved and challenges still ahead.
Throughout history, this community has confronted violence and hatred, witnessed historic strides forward and endured heart-wrenching setbacks. But through all of it, we have stood firm, our determination unbroken and our resolve steadfast. As we look towards the future, we must remember that our collective strength never has and never will come from conforming to society’s predefined molds, but breaking them—defining ourselves not with society’s notions of normality, but by embracing and championing our own authentic identities.

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About the Contributors
Rikkie Gunawan, Centerspread Editor
Rikkie is the Centerspread Editor of The Northwood Howler and on a mission to turn the newspaper into a magazine (kidding!). They’re always drawing in the margins of papers, but also love to read and try creative writing when they get the chance. At any given moment, they’re thinking about what to wear next for their outfit account.
Anthony Park, Staff Writer
Anthony Park, the perpetual insomniac somehow writing for the Northwood Howler, often wonders if his undying loyalty to Starbucks brews is a personality trait or an unhealthy caffeine dependency. Fueled by both coffee and unprompted left-wing commentary, he oscillates between fervent typing and deep existential crises — with occasional breaks for his skincare regimen (because shining skin is just the right counterbalance when peering into life’s abyss). While we won’t claim his writings are birthed from sheer delirium, that ethereal touch does lend them an unexpected charm.

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