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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The GSA: A Welcoming Part of WJ

The Gay-Straight Alliance club (GSA) flies under the radar. And that is largely because the club prides itself on being a safe haven for those who need somewhere to feel like themselves.

“The GSA’s mission is to make sure that people at our school feel comfortable being who they are regardless of sexual preference or gender orientation,” said junior Ilana Kapit, the club’s president. “To let people know that there is nothing wrong with being who they are or loving who they love.”

The club welcomes those who are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual, queer or questioning (LGBTIQQ) into an environment where “voices aren’t bullying, derogatory or even mean.” The club has about 20 members, half of whom are straight.

“Sometimes it’s easier to be a straight ally,” said co-sponsor and English teacher Aisling McGinty. “If you are an ally for something it is much easier to stand up for that thing than being in that role.”

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All members participate in activities such as monthly social outings with other GSAs in the county, Ally WeekDay of Silence and other LGBTIQQ related events. The club recently attended a showing of the Laramie Project, a play written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project in reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo.

McGinty has enjoyed seeing first hand the innate perseverance in teenagers nowadays that allows them to try to fight against societal pressures.

“Kids are a lot stronger than when I went to school,” said McGinty. “I see a more resilient spirit within them.”

The GSA strives to encourage students to embrace their identity, and to know that it’s okay – whatever or whoever they may be.

“I think that self-empowerment is amazing, especially when kids aren’t hearing that from anywhere else,” said McGinty.

Like any other club, members have to want to join and participate in the GSA, but must do so on a much more personal level. Students who are wondering about their identity have to take the first steps.

“At our school, the best we can do is make them aware of our GSA,” said Kapit. “They have to be the ones that are willing to come. There’s not much else that we can do.”

Kapit does want to reach out to other potential members. She hopes that a surprise gay men’s chorus performance later in the year that will be open to all students will increase interest in the club. McGinty wants as many students as possible to “turn from being victims into being able to handle themselves.”

Kapit appreciates how comfortable she can feel in her own skin when with other members.

“I really like the fact that I can be myself,” she said. “It’s really a huge relief to be in a room where I can kiss my girlfriend and not get weird looks, or say something about some celebrity and how attractive I find her without getting laughed at. It’s not just a place of acceptance, it’s a place of family.”

Kapit hopes that she, along with others members of the GSA, can feel that same sort of acceptance not just every other Tuesday in the choral room, but every day, all day too. She, however, takes heart in the fact that “no matter what, you are not alone.”

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Katie Levingston
Katie Levingston, Online Editor in Chief
Although she seems quiet on the outside, 2010-2011 Online Editor-in-Chief Katie Levingston is bursting with energy on the inside. A former young Parisian in her second year on staff, Katie models her life after certain television shows, namely Gilmore Girls and Friends. She is unnaturally familiar with said sitcoms; she longs for the day when she can eat anything she wants and spend all her time at Central Perk in the Village. Nothing happens to her in real life, it all happens in Stars Hollow or in Monica’s apartment… okay? When she’s not practicing her speed-talking, she plays a mean clarinet in many different musical groups and spends inordinate amounts of time editing videos for the website. Among her most pressing decisions in life are what to order at a restaurant and which scarf to wear that day. She is insanely proud of her thick curly hair when it cooperates. She’s super excited to be a part of the up-and-coming wjpitch.com. Her doppelganger Anne Hathaway says, "Hi!"
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