I was born in Middletown, CT. African American, Islander, Gender Variant Male. I come from a place of many identities; some easier to express than others. My childhood was rough for me. I had to deal with many challenges including a learning disorder and health issues. Needless to say, school was not my favorite place to be. Classes were rough; I didn’t feel a part of anything as I walked through the halls, sat through lectures and socialized in common areas. That was, until I found the dance studio and theater. It was here that I was able to let all my other worries fade away quietly as I took the stage or floor. I felt free. I felt as if I found my home at school. In my sophomore year I came out to my friends and teachers; later that summer I came out to my parents. It was liberating to share this part of myself with those closest to me. It also left me with an undying thirst to get involved with this community. This led me to the Rochester local gay alliance. It was here that I learned about GLSEN, specifically GLSEN’s Jump-Start program. Almost instantly I fell in love and joined the team. A year later, I found myself the student coordinator of this remarkable group of individuals. I was driven more than ever to make schools safe for all LGBT students and allies. We did this through leading trainings, facilitating workshops and student organizing. We increased the presence of safe school issues to the forefront of many student bodies in our community and began to witness a pivotal shift in the way those in Rochester talk about bullying. My time as the GLSEN Rochester Jump-Start Student Coordinator has served as a cocoon for me. It was provided me with the space to evolve as a person to who I am today. I became more comfortable with myself, began to love myself more, and to find my voice. I was able to attend Camp GLSEN and the SOCO Summit. I met friends, supported many people through their personal journey, and helped other students, like me, find their own voice. My metamorphosis has provided me with skills and willpower to know that no goal is unreachable. In my senior year I found myself soaring in the sky to Scotland for a theater competition, humbled as I met President Obama and gleaming when I made the principles list. Now graduated, this 19 years old and former Student Coordinator is not going anywhere. My evolution continues as I take the helm as GLSEN Rochester’s Jump-Start Adult Coordinator. I cannot begin to express how excited I am to provide a space for others to experience such a journey. I have learned a few things. At the end of the day, live for you. The race in life isn’t about how long you go, but rather how meaningful each day becomes. It’s about knowing what you have done to make the world a better place. No matter what you go through, your struggle, your trials, remember, you can get through it. Don’t let anyone bring you down. Find a space that you can call yours, use it as a way to grow and soar to new heights. You only live once. Y.O.L.O! Dontaee Williamson Jump-Start Adult Coordinator GLSEN Rochester
Students from across the country and the world will be joining forces on April 20, 2012 for the 26th annual Day of Silence. What started as an activity by a few dedicated college students in 1996, this day has become the largest student-led day of action in the nation! Here at the GLSEN national office we are constantly encouraged by the dialogue of countless students on Facebook and Twitter. We know though, each year it’s not enough to simply tweet the silence. We need to show our solidarity in person, in our communities, with other student organizers on the Day of Silence. Together as one, we can make change happen & create safe schools for all students. Therefore, if you haven’t done so already, please take 2 minutes right now to register on our Day of Silence site!
The Day of Silence is almost here! Let’s make this one the biggest one yet!
The Day of Silence (DOS) is the largest student lead day of action in the nation; it’s so large that its reach has also gone international to countries such as Russia and Singapore. Because of such attention and traffic during this important day we have worked hard and are proud to announce the launch of our freshly updated Day of Silence website! Now DOS participants should find our user-friendly site more accessible. Through feedback from the community, we’ve heard that many organizers may not have a lot of time to read something as they are out there and creating change. We’ve heard your feedback and have created one-pagers for an at-a-glance look at ways to plan and execute your own Day of Silence & Breaking the Silence events. Of course, we also still have the entire organizing manual and resources too!
Take some time now and check it out. Happy Organizing!