I have never been one for public speaking. I don’t have much to say that I feel is worth hearing, but today I have a message for you to hear that’s very dear to me. I’m a first year student here at Grant MacEwan University and if you had met me in September you would have met someone who was very shy and unhappy with his life.
I moved here from a small town that was not LGBTQ friendly. To be openly involved in an alternative lifestyle there was in many ways to become a social outcast. Of course, not everyone took such a negative viewpoint, but far too many did. Those people who were allies were usually not very outspoken, as it was just as damning in the minds of those who judged.
My family is very conservative. They believe liberals are to be blamed for everything, that global warming is a conspiracy and that gay marriage is an abomination. My father’s word is law in that house, and woe to any who would disagree with him on anything. But I have never agreed with him on a lot of things, especially when it came to gay marriage. But growing up I wanted a peaceful life, without conflict, raised voices and the constant tension that comes standard with every political issue in that house. So I kept quiet. I didn’t agree, but they didn’t have to know that.
In my high school, there was no GSA. Nobody one was out because everyone was afraid, and I don’t think anyone could blame them. Teenagers can be evil, and we were especially cruel when it came to making fun of anyone we thought might be gay, and it didn’t take much to make us think that. I say we, because I too am guilty of saying some terrible things to help ease my own passage through the emotional prison that was Willow Creek Composite High. I told myself that it was easier to torture than to be tortured. But at the end of the day, I was leaving bruises as black and as deep on my own heart and soul as well as those of my victims’.
By the time I made it through high school, and ignored my own family’s beliefs for another three years I simply hated myself. My policy of not standing up for what I believed in was killing me from the inside out. Then I came to MacEwan. I stumbled onto the inQUEERies booth during club week, attended my first meeting that same night, and that’s when my life began to change.
The people in that club are some of the greatest people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I mentioned that when I moved here I was shy and unhappy. Well it was thanks to the friends I made at InQUEERies that I was able to change that. Not only did they accept my offbeat, often flamboyant personality but they taught me an incredible amount about the community and gave me a safe place to question and explore my own sexuality.
InQUEERies introduced me to a world far beyond what I knew in my home town. They showed me that the kind of hate I had been engulfed by didn’t have to be a part of my life here in Edmonton. They provided me with ways to be a better, more understanding person and opened my eyes in such a way that I will never be able to close them again.
There is a lot that InQUEERies has given to me, and now I have a chance to do something in return. For longer than I care to admit I sat by as people very much like those I grew up with unjustly harassed, insulted and even denied the LGBTQ community their rights! But I will no longer allow that to happen. I strongly encourage everyone here to do the same, to step up and support the amazing community that we have here at Grant MacEwan and within Edmonton. Let every person, regardless of their gender or sexuality feel safe and welcome here.
My name is Carson Green, and I may be straight, but I am no longer narrow.