This Monday will mark the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. This event was a pivotal moment for the LGBTQ+ community as it symbolized the end of an intolerant status quo. June 28th, 1969, NY police entered the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village to forcibly remove patrons for no other reason than their sexuality, clothing, or identity. With the poetic (and literal) throwing of the brick by Marsha P. Johnson, resistance met strength. Marches, demonstrations, and other forms of protest took over the sector of NY and significant change became possible for the LGBTQ+ community in an outdated American society.
Today we celebrate a month of Pride in honor of the fighting spirit of those like Marsha P. Johnson and the many positive changes that have occurred in the queer community because of those willing to fight for their inherent rights. There is still progress to be made.
We at The Story School are committed to educating and giving voice to all of our community members. Our goal as an organization is to stand as an ally and continue to educate ourselves. We are making a donation to the Trevor Project, one of the most active charities supporting LGBTQ+ youth and we strongly encourage you to consider doing the same. You can learn more about the Trevor Project here.
Our storytellers and instructors are expected to be active allies for any and all youth in need of support in our programs and camps. We believe that story-based education and roleplaying adventures have a positive impact on mental health as well as fostering an environment of acceptance. Our Executive Director Christopher R. Wiley had this to say:
"There are a lot of studies done on the trying on of identities through roleplaying and it being a helpful first step for many to embrace their identities. Even something as simple as going by a different name or pronoun than they use anywhere else...can let them safely test out new ways they want to identify themselves. Combine that with a...community of peers that also empowers an individual to be something other than how they present anywhere else. The Story School Camps by nature of being...an interactive roleplaying community can give LBGTQ+ campers a place to feel comfortable enough to take steps on their journey to embracing themselves."
We sat down with one of our teen Story School students and asked them their thoughts on Pride, The Story School, and their own experiences growing up in the LGBTQ+ community. This is their story:
"I came out in 6th grade. I've struggled with mental illness my whole life or my whole queer career as I like to call it. I got bullied. I finally came to terms with bullying...in the summer of 8th grade at camp. Now I'm pretty chill. I'm doing okay."
"(The Story School) has shaped my love of stories and adventures and boosted my confidence. So have my past and current JI (Junior Instructor Training Program) instructors."
Amidst struggles with classmates and teachers, the community of fellow adventurers at camp would become more appreciated. "I went to camp for six, maybe seven, summers. (One counselor) offered me a position as an NPC (non-player character) when I was eleven, which was huge. The community is so great. All the kids are so helpful and kind. They accepted me for who I am the minute I came back from that summer. Everyone was great and was accepting and nice."
We hope that as this month comes to a close, we all take the time to reflect and consider how we can be more supportive of our neighbors. Our teen student suggests that Pride is "a great month to express yourself and to be who you are and not buy things from corporations and instead buy them from queer-based communities." We, again, encourage you to donate to the Trevor Project and to educate yourself on the history of the 1969 Stonewall Riots as its ripples can still be felt today.