September 18, 2012
Introducing: Connor Wright, Public Policy Intern
I’m Connor Wright, and I’m a Public Policy Intern for GLSEN this fall. I hail from the great state of North Dakota and am currently attending the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where I’m studying Political Science and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. I plan on being a lifelong advocate for LGBTQ rights and equality, so working for GLSEN is the perfect opportunity to be a policy advocate on a national and local level.
Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) empower people. They demand attention and they let people know they aren’t alone. Growing up gay in ND often was a bit alienating—I was one of the few openly gay people in my school and my community. I didn’t feel connected to the college campuses and many of the other LGBTQ high school students were scattered far across the state with only an internet connection to bridge the difference. Looking back, I remember discovering RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo one night and, until I came to college, thought I was the only one who watched it. While RuPaul’s Drag Race isn’t definitive of LGBTQ culture, it opened my eyes to people embracing themselves and their identity and that was something I hadn’t seen before.
Having a GSA at my school helped change that, it gave the school a space that welcomed people from all across the spectrum and empowered their voices and identities. People could come and talk about their life, their struggles and triumphs with their identity and their world. Now, GSAs are difficult clubs to run, but they are also fantastic organizations that let students express themselves in a way that they may not be able at home, or at work, or at school. They empower people to realize they aren’t alone, but are surrounded by people who want them shine. (Hokey, but true. And if you need resources for GSA, check out GLSEN’s Jump Start Guide for GSAs)
I was president of my high school’s GSA and it was tough. At that time I was swamped under responsibilities to my school work, my extracurriculars, and my life as I tried to figure myself out. I have nothing but the highest respect and admiration for the people who create, run, and/or attend GSAs because they are putting in incredible effort to benefit so many. I’m excited to be working with GLSEN, an organization that has worked tirelessly for the benefit of LGBTQ youth. I’m excited to see all the people doing amazing things in the LGBTQ advocacy realm. And I’m excited to see what I can do working as an LGBTQ advocate and I thank GLSEN for giving me this incredible opportunity.