Girls’ Studies: Activism

I don’t know why, but I was surprised to think of girls as activists. However, after watching some TED talks by girl activists, I realized just how powerful their voices can be, and that we all have a duty to be activists where we can. If we have a story, we should share it. If we have the passion to make a difference, we should do it. Girls like Tavi Gevinson and Natalie Warne are two examples of girl activists.

Today I’d like to highlight a girl activist that I find inspiring. I saw her words on a blog last year, and I was moved by her bravery at such a young age. Her name is Susannah Montgomery. She is fourteen. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (my religion). She has a gay brother, and she uses her voice to stand up for him and to make a difference for him and others within our religious culture and community.

Susannah montgomery and family

Above is a photo of Susannah and her family.  Here are the posts she wrote about her experiences.

http://www.nomorestrangers.org/oblivion-a-mormon-teen-speaks-out-for-others/

http://www.nomorestrangers.org/lifesaver-a-mormon-teen-speaks-out-for-others-part-2-of-2/

Here’s a post about her and her family’s activism.

http://www.mormonmentalhealth.org/023-advocating-for-your-gay-mormon-family-member/

I am moved by her because of my own experiences. My dad is gay, and I kept quiet about it until I was well into my twenties. I never dared speak about it, for my mother warned me that we would be ridiculed in the small town where we lived. It turned out that some of my best friends in high school were gay, but they never spoke out either. It was a different time and a different climate. But I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had been as brave as Susannah and her family are.

I find her activism endearing because it is done for somebody she loves, her brother. It is done in a spirit of love and to encourage others to be more loving. She doesn’t just promote this with her peers; instead, Susannah talks to teachers and local church leaders, letting them know what our church’s official stance on being gay is. She isn’t afraid to contradict those who are in positions of power, and she does so in an open and honest way.

She is setting out to correct misconceptions about homosexuality. Within my religious culture, as in many others, homosexuality was once thought of as a choice. This incorrect assumption continues to be promoted among people I know, despite our church’s website mormonsandgays.org, which reminds us that it isn’t a choice. This is a change in the way my church has talked about the issue, but many still go by old ideas and beliefs. Susannah isn’t afraid to speak up and correct this.

I have garnered some courage in the last ten years or so. I published an essay about my dad, I presented at a religious symposium, and I talk about it at church. I’m not afraid to help others see my point of view, and I’m not afraid to reveal the nontraditional family situation that I have. I have faced some negative comments and truly rude and ignorant beliefs said as if they were truths. Sometimes I end up in situations in which people don’t know my background and they assume that I have the same bigoted ideas that they do. They begin talking and hating. I speak up and let them know that their words aren’t okay with me. I get up and leave. However, I’ve never been as daring and outspoken as Susannah. There’s much I can learn from her.

What girl activists do you know?

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