This article is a part of the Humans of OHS project, which involves a series of stories
about the faces and perspectives that often go unseen at Oswego High School. All articles were written by students in Ms. Hands’s 21st Century Journalism class. Additional articles in the series will be posted here.
It can be a struggle for members of the LGBT community to go through their day-to-day life. In the last few years, there has been more of an acceptance of the LGBT community, but there are still people that refuse to accept them for who they are.
Here are stories from three students at Oswego High School who are trying their hardest to make the best lives for themselves. Even through all of the hardships and criticisms, they are still pushing through every day. Finding acceptance in their peers has been hard, but it gets slightly easier over time. They all hope that one day, all people—no matter what they identify as, or who they decide to be with in a relationship—will be accepted without criticism and without being put down by the people around them.
The thing that is killing me
Finn Noel Durning is a senior at Oswego High School who came out as transgender when he was a sophomore. Ever since he came out as transgender, he’s been dealing with the challenges of making his life better and easier.
Durning has dealt with backlash from friends and family because they don’t understand how he feels, their beliefs are different or they aren’t OK with someone transitioning to the opposite sex. It has been a very scary experience for Durning to come out to the people around him. He has been bullied and harrassed for trying to be the person he feel like he is.
“You know, there a lot of bullies. They’re easy to ignore,” Durning says. “The whole money aspect is going to be really hard, because my parents are like, ‘if you’re going to do this to yourself, then you have to do it all by yourself.’ They’re really mental like that, but you can’t really do anything about that considering the time that they grew up in. It was a lot different than now.”
Durning has dealt with a multitude of lost relationships. There were people who refused to conform to the change Durning was going through, they refused to call him by the right pronouns and their view of him changed dramatically. Even though Durning has been through hardships, he has pulled through them and now has friends that love him for who he is.
“Sometimes when you find that one thing that is killing you inside, you kind of have to kill it before it kills you.”
“It’s going to be really hard, I’m going to tell you that, but you can’t not be who you are, because no matter what’s going to happen, people are going to hate you,” Durning says. “It’s just a part of life, but you just have to love yourself, and then you’ll find people who will love you too.”
Before coming out as transgender, Durning suffered from extreme depression for a multitude of reasons: feeling uncomfortable with who he was, not knowing what or who he was compared to how he felt, or not liking who he was at that moment.
“My depression use to be a lot worse,” Durning says. “I use to hate myself with every fiber of my being and now I’m not a lot better, but I can look in the mirror now and be like, ‘hey, I know where I’m going to be soon, and it’s going to be OK.’ Sometimes when you find that one thing that is killing you inside…you kind of have to kill it before it kills you.”
Not my concern
Xander Garland is a transgender man at Oswego High School. He is a junior at the high school and has already been surrounded by friends who are very accepting. With family, on the other hand, things aren’t that pleasant.
“The first person I came out to was my dad,” Garland says. “It was 3 1/2 years ago. He didn’t say anything, but he’s just transphobic in general. I’m still hopeful, because he’s my dad.”
“Me being happy is on my radar. My friends being happy is on my radar.”
Garland is afraid of being put in the stereotype of wanting to sleep with every person he sees because he is transgender. There are many different stereotypes surrounding the transgender community. The stereotypes that have been put on Garland don’t interest him in the slightest.
“I don’t want to be seen as ‘the tranny kid’ or the local ‘weird kid’ who is seen as the person who is going to sleep with a thousand people. I’m not like that,” Garland says. “Sex is not on my radar. Me being happy is on my radar. My friends being happy is on my radar…Last time I checked, being trans does not mean that I had filled this quota. No. That’s just me being me. So I’m going to go home and watch Youtube, because that’s me being me. That’s what makes me happy. I don’t think people realize that we are normal people too.”
What I am
Sophomore Victoria Allard was a student in Alabama before recently transferring to Oswego High School. In Alabama, they came out as a lesbian, and when they came to Oswego, it wasn’t hard to find a group of friends who were similar to them and very accepting.
“It’s not like I was treated very differently; I just found friends who were similar,”Allard says. “I felt more included.”
Just like Garland, Allard has dealt with with others not treating them like they are a person. Allard is treated like they are not normal and there is something wrong with them, when in reality they’re just like anyone else on this planet.
“Sometimes people will look past what I am; sometimes they might not know [I am lesbian] unless I tell them,” Allard says. “My dad isn’t uncomfortable and he doesn’t talk to me about it. So he’s probably just trying to avoid it.”