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What It Is Like To Be LGBTQIA In BBYO

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Three years ago, I joined the largest teen led Jewish youth organization called BBYO. Three years ago, I also had a secret that I had been hiding since middle school that I wasn’t planning on sharing with anyone for a very long time, especially the teens in BBYO. Being from the south, I wasn’t ready to accept myself for who I truly was due to being scared that I would be treated improperly and that I wouldn’t be accepted as the person who I truly was. During my time in my chapter, I became really close with all the older girls and really looked up to them and noticed that they were all really open minded and loved each other for who we all were.

About a month or so later, I decided to test the waters and came out to each older girl in my chapter individually and I never received any negativity. All the girls were very happy that I was able to come out and instantly accepted me for who I was and it really made me feel like I had a big support system.

The summer of 2013, I went on one of BBYO’s premiere summer programs where I knew only three people. I met people from all over North America and the world and quickly became comfortable enough to come out to my mock chapter. Although it was scary because I had just met these people, I knew that it was all going to be okay and that they were all going to accept me for who I was and I was right. At the end of the program, we had a talent show and I decided to rap Same Love by Macklemore and still to this day, I am known as the girl who rapped and came out in front of over 90 people.

By the time the 2013-2014 school year came, I was out to almost everyone I knew and I couldn’t have been happier. When we got a new class of freshmen into my chapter, I was a bit worried about them being “freaked out” about my sexuality but I knew that it wasn’t going to be a problem in the long term and it absolutely wasn’t.

The next summer, I went on two BBYO summer programs and I was extremely happy. I had just won president of my chapter and I was out to everyone. At each program, I was accepted by everyone and all my worries were shut down. I ended up rapping Same Love again because that song had a close meaning to me and really helped define who I was and still am as a person.

Each year in BBYO, I felt more and more accepted. I would attend conventions where we would have LGBTQIA* sessions and I would discover how many members were just like me once and have grown to be out and enthusiastic members of BBYO. I also learned that BBYO was always there to be a giant support system whenever I felt down or needed to be reassured of why I came out in the first place. Without BBYO’s support system for LGBTQIA* teens like me, I wouldn’t be having such an easy time being myself in high school and definitely wouldn’t have had the courage to ever come out.

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