My name is Joy E. and I’m a writer and activist. I decided to start the We Got Your Back Project because I want to let LGBTQIA youth know that their are people out looking out of them and support youth in creating a LGBTQIA community that at is truly inclusive. If I could go back in time and talk to 16-year-old me, I would tell myself about how powerful our community can be when we have each other’s back. As a high school student, I was harassed and threatened because I organized my high school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance. While I was very lucky to have the support of a few teachers, when it came down to it, my high school didn’t do much to keep me safe. I didn’t realize then how much better my life would have been if I had been brave enough to find the other kids who were like me and start being really honest about who I was.
My life now couldn’t be more different from it was in high school. I love hiking, traveling, reading and writing comic books, and dressing up in ridiculous costumes. I’ve figured out how to be myself and I’ve found people who accept me and who stand up for me. I’ve also learned to do the same thing for them. But I know that things haven’t really changed for LGBTQIA youth. I hope that you’ll join the We Got Your Back Project because we need your help. We want to do three things. First, we want to share stories of hope and build a community through this website. Then we want to mobilize that community to take action to concrete actions to support LGBTQIA teens. Most importantly, we want to start a conversation about inclusive within our community. If we really want LGBTQIA teens to feel supported, we need to think about our community differently. The voices of trans youth – whose suicide rate is 25 time the national average – people of color, people with disabilities, and working class youth, need to be listened to. We need to create a community that includes everyone. I hope you’ll be a part of that.
Hi, I’m Tanya D and I’m a lifelong Chicagoan, Sox fan, southsider at heart and a northsider by day. I’m a comics fan, gamer, reader and writer. I joined this project because I’m tired of seeing yet another young face on the news because they took their lives because of bullying. Bullying because they dared to be themselves in a world that punished them for what they cannot help and for daring to express themselves in grade school, high school or college. I do this because I sees myself in these young people gone too soon, and I know I could have easily taken that path when I was in high school. I was bullied for being different from my peers, for any number of reasons but the most grievous to me was because of my sexual orientation. I’m an out and proud bisexual black woman, who knows too well the stinging taunts of classmates who decided I was easy prey for being who I was.
I was the awkward geeky kid in high school, the one that never really fit in with a crowd, or with any of the usual social groups in high school. Despite being on the track team, I was no jock; despite being a an A/B student, I didn’t fit in with smart and cool kids that were smart, but not so smart they were considered nerdy. I was a nerd, but even nerds have sharp tongues for someone they don’t think fits into the group dynamic. In short, high school sucked, even more so because I could not be out to my mother (and I never will be for that matter), but I couldn’t come home and get any support there. Between the taunts, the picking on me and a few altercations here and there, I often thought of suicide as an option. I can’t honestly tell you what stayed my had, probably my own cowardice and fear of death, but I’m still here. I hope that what we’re doing will reach others who are dealing with bullies while in school, while they come to terms with who they are and they get a chance to finish finding their way in the world and aren’t pushed to the point of feeling like death is the only option for peace and an end to the harassment they endure for being themselves.
If anyone you know of is being bullied, tormented or harassed, step up and help them out. Make sure they know that someone is listening and that someone cares. You never know whose life you may save.