On Tuesday October 25, the 2nd Annual Visibility Project photography exhibit at GCS had a lively opening night, featuring a program of heartfelt performances and speeches. The Visibility Project, inspired by similar photography exhibits at other schools, features photos submitted by members of the community that include LGBTQ+ loved ones - parents, friends, extended family, siblings, and students. Parallel portrait galleries can be viewed at both GCS campuses until November 11.
Attendees included students, parents, faculty, administrators and visitors from other schools. The opening address from arvind grover highlighted why the school’s Episcopal identity, as well as its aim to be a school that actively combats bias, inspires the faculty and administration to actively affirm our LGBTQ+ community. In these joyful photos, as well as in the smiles on the faces of viewers, we see so many reasons to be motivated to organize programming like this.
Eighth grade student Lee G., representing the Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance, read a heartrending and original poem entitled “The Bird” about the universal need for acceptance in a complex world. Drama teacher Andrew Leonard, featuring student members of the Grace Theater Company and fellow drama teacher Sabrina Jacob, sang an original and poignant song inspired by the tragic shooting in Orlando, “Love is Love.”
Sarah Moon, editor of “The Letter Q,” and college counselor at St. Ann’s, shared an address that focused on why events like our Visibility Project matter so much to youth in our communities. “It might be 2016, but it’s just as important for them to see folks who look like them, folks who give them a sister-nod like the ones I lived for, folks who are living their happy, fulfilling, gay as all get out, adult lives. We live in a culture where we are not the norm, which means that we have to seek ourselves out. We have to look for our heroes – like James Baldwin, like Staceyann Chin - and find words for ourselves… We don’t live in a world that affirms who we are, and as a young person, affirmation is key to survival. You can’t be what you can’t see, a friend of mine says. Queer visibility and queer spaces are so important for young queer people, because there’s so very much they can be, and it is our job to help them see it. That’s why we need a night like this. Because it is so easy to convince ourselves that our kids have it so easy, when in fact, they are struggling with a violent world, a culture that tells them that they might be “fine” but they’re not normal, and messages from peers and adults alike that, really, can’t you just get over it.”
Organizers Jean-Robert Andre (science), Susan Sterman-Jones (drama), and Kim Chaloner (dean of community life), are providing classrooms with additional material for those who visit the exhibit. If you haven’t yet, please stop by and enjoy the gallery.