How Campus Pride Gave Me My Life Back
As a student-athlete from a very young age, I was constantly bullied for being different. I was picked on for not looking feminine enough, having a deep voice, and not acting the same way as other girls, among other things. Until I was 21 years old, I was a closeted lesbian, and had extreme difficulty coming to terms with that part of my identity. I got used to brushing it off when I was bullied, and denied that it even bothered me. It wasn’t until I had qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials and accepted a scholarship to my dream school for swimming that I really began to feel the weight of that on me. I had reached my highest goals and accomplished things that no one ever expected me to do, but I was unable to excel and make the most of those accomplishments.
Being gay clashed with what I wanted. It posed a threat to my goals, dreams, and relationships. I saw the way that gay athletes and students were treated by some of the people I cared about most in the world, knowing that would be the way they treated me if they knew I was struggling with my identity. Because of this, I battled depression and struggled with school and swimming until I had reached an all-time low. I left my dream school, unable to finish swimming with the team I had wanted to be on since I was just 8 years old. I thought my swimming career and my life as I knew it were over. But I was wrong.
At 21, I came out as an openly gay swimmer after transferring to the University of Arizona. At first I was unsure about how my life was going to change and the negative consequences I might have to face. Soon after, Campus Pride was one of a few organizations that reached out to me. The love, acceptance, and sense of family they shared with me were game changers. After years of feeling hopeless, angry, and frustrated with myself for being different, I began to see that my differences were important.
What I find unique about Campus Pride was the influence they have in so many different areas. Every summer, they have Camp Pride, where LGBTQ students and straight allies from around the U.S. travel to talk about social justice issues and plan to take action on campus. They have tools for assessing campus sports teams and identifying safe places for LGBTQ athletes. They also work to identify LGBTQ friendly colleges and university campuses across the U.S., giving high school students a way to find a campus with safe spaces.
Campus Pride has inspired me in a million and one ways, but mostly they’ve inspired me to do everything in my power to make sure other LGBT athletes don’t feel ashamed of themselves and live with the bad experiences that I had. Campus Pride made me realize that I didn’t deserve the way that I was treated because of my differences, and that I can do good things for others by drawing on my experience.
I can’t stress enough how big of a role Campus Pride has played in my journey. I’m grateful to them for changing the lives of young LGBTQ students who suffer from depression and struggle with bullying the way I did. I give to Campus Pride because I want to give back to an organization that helped give me my life and my self-confidence back. By giving to Campus Pride, we can make sure they’re able to change the lives of LGBTQ youth who might otherwise feel lost.
Campus Pride url: https://www.campuspride.org/
Review from #MyGivingStory
Campus Pride saves lives. Campus Pride is the leading national non-profit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. I donate my time and dollars to Campus Pride because same-sex marriage did not end the struggle for equity and equality. Prejudice, bigotry and hate continues. Campus Pride believes anti-racism is LGBTQ work. Because of Campus Pride, young leaders are emerging. Former students are emerging now as leaders in roles that impact policy. I give my time and dollars because I see lives changed, paths forged, and missions focused on change. A change for the good of all. A change that normalizes love.
Review from #MyGivingStory
I have been involved with Campus Pride for four years in several different capacities. Every summer I witness students "find themselves" at Campus Pride Summer Leadership Camp. It is an awakening and realization that there is truly a place out there where they can find total acceptance and support. The best thing? That support remains AFTER camp. Campus Pride remains in close contact with students, following up on their action plans and discovering the wonderful difference students are making on their campuses. Campus Pride also provides a service to LGBT students by scoring how friendly colleges and universities are via Campus Climate Index. This is important as students leave home and are concerned about safety and feeling welcome. I work with a group of committed individuals that volunteer their time, services and dollars so that Campus Pride can serve LGBT students But the honor is mine.