My Way / Sebastian Immonen

Sebastian Immonen, Contributor

Nobody expects reputations to be the most important thing on a high school senior’s mind. But this year as I duck and weave in and out of the inevitable challenges of senior year, I find that they are the one thing always on my mind. I have started to see that a lot of what I strive to accomplish here is setting a precedent for others like me at NASH.

Around the world, people are repressed for their sexuality to the point where they are afraid to come out of hiding and be who they are. We at North Allegheny are lucky we don’t live in this atmosphere. But we’re still not equally respected — no system is perfect. LGBT students at NA have no small amount of trouble finding a foothold in group dynamics. When entering a conversation, I still have to be wary of my tone and mannerisms to be sure of my place in the room. The occasional “worse f word” is still thrown around casually by some of my closest friends. It’s embarrassing and sets me back without having a say.

Being gay here is not about trying to be normal anymore. It’s about rising above what people expect of you.”

Luckily, I’m above taking these side comments personally. It’s important to realize that people say things because they don’t know any better, so we need to work to make sure they learn. I think everyone needs to take steps to actively remind people of the respect they need to show others. It’s the only way it will ever become normal.

Something a lot of students honor here is never attributing mistakes to sexuality. The worst they assume is that all we care about is our sexuality, when the truth is we are multifaceted people just like everyone else. Could you imagine if all someone cared about was salad? Why would I only care about men?

Being gay here is not about trying to be normal anymore. It’s about rising above what people expect of you.

My personal motivations have shifted over the years. I used to want to live up to my sibling’s accomplishments. But now that I see that we only have four years of high school to create change in this learning environment, I want to make sure that nobody ever expects gay people to be lower than they are.

I call on every other LGBT student here at NASH to fight to become the best writer, artist, mathematician, or athlete in the school.  Be a leader.  Not only for yourself, but for all of us.