Well hello everyone, my name is Christoph Sawyer. Chances are you haven't heard of me before; That's because I just started working here at GLSEN as a Summer Communications Intern. While I may be new to the office, this is not the first time I have been involved with GLSEN; it's probably best to start from the beginning...
It was on September 12th 1993 that Christoph was born...errrm...sorry, I think that's too early. I attended high school at John Jay HS in Westchester County, New York. It was while I was in high school that I became a LGBT youth leader. What really motivated me to pursue being a leader was my experience during GLSEN's 2011 Safe Schools Advocacy Summit, where I was selected to lobby for GLSEN to gain support from Senators and Representatives for two of their acts. I was very excited to lobby on Capital Hill but, little did I know how this trip would forever transform my life.
When I came out in high school I faced no bullying or harassment, but faced oppression due to the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy. During most of my trip in DC I was incredibly anxious about what I would use as my platform about why schools need to be more inclusive and safer, because I had lived such a safe life. It was one night during dinner that I heard two stories that would forever resinate with me and sparked the fire that is why I advocate for LGBT youth. The first story was told by a sister whose brother faced significant bullying simply because he was perceived to be gay. Her brother was 11 years old! I could not believe what I had heard. The next story was told by a mother whose son also faced significant anti-gay bullying, a son who was helping and advocating for other gay youth. To hear these stories about young men who were so harassed and bullied, and to see the look on the face of their loved ones and how upset they were was life altering. It is here where my journey with GLSEN began and where my advocating started.
After such an inspiring trip with GLSEN I decided to become much more involved with my Gay-Straight Alliance and my local GLSEN chapter. As a GLSEN Jump-Start member I presented several times to different schools in my area about how to stop bullying, stand up for others, to accept others, and eventually I went on to organize my own events. It was during my senior year, as part of my fim class that I made a 10 minute documentary about different LGBT individuals' experience in high school, and what they thought needs to be done to further acceptance in society. I visited the GLSEN national headquarters in New York City to interview different members in the GLSEN office like Andy Marra, Jenny Betz, and Ricardo Martinez. My film was unbelievably well received. I have now shown the film numerous times and to many audiences. These audiences include the Jacob Burns Film Center, John Jay HS's 2nd Film Festival, GLSEN Hudson Valley members, PepsiCo's EQUAL group, and my own college, Clark University.
This brings us to the present. Like I said, I am now interning in the Communications Department at GLSEN National in New York, and am incredibly happy doing so. I am a sophomore at Clark University studying Computer Science with a minor in Innovation/Entrepreneurship. My film and everything that has come out of it have been my second greatest achievement (my first being achieving the rank of Eagle Scout).
Below is my film. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!