Jennie "Jay" Drummond plans to wear black and not to spend any money, her way of joining the national boycott, Day Without a Gay. She heads the chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville. Her GSA chapter participated in two anti-Proposition 8 rallies (one on October 28 at Danville’s Park and Ride is pictured here).
As it happens, there are chapters of the Gay-Straight Alliance at 22 high school campuses throughout the East Bay suburbs, and even one at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette. The faculty advisor at the chapter at Acalanes High in Lafayette, from which I graduated, told me that the GSA is one of the most popular clubs on campus. It is made up of kids who are, as the name implies, straight, gay and bisexual. Not all the kids who are gay or bisexual are “out” about their sexual orientation, this advisor said, while the straight students join because they tend to have progressive political views and care about human rights.
Jennie, who identifies as bisexual, said she was very happy to participate in this email Q&A with me. She says: “Part of the reason I was so excited to be GSA president this year is because I don’t want any other kids to go through what I did. I want them to know there’s someone to help them, and maybe an article would help them with that.”
How big is the Gay-Straight Alliance at San Ramon Valley High?
Our club has over 160 students signed up. However, when we sold our shirts last year, over 300 were sold. We’re a very popular club on campus.
How many students participated in the No on 8. demonstrations you held?
The demonstration was actually not done solely by my GSA. We collaborated with Monte Vista’s, and it was organized by my ex-teacher (and good friend, from middle school. We had two demonstrations: There was one was on October 28, and we had a second on November 3. We had over 100 at the first, and probably around 125-150 at the second, which was impressive, considering the fact it was pouring [rain] the entire time. About half of those people were students from my GSA.
Does your GSA plan to continue to fight in the No. on 8 battle?
We will continue to fight until everyone is considered equality is restored in California. This means attending demonstrations and participating in national days of protest, such as the upcoming Day Without A Gay, a nationwide boycott on December 10 [today], and Light Up The Night, [a December 20 candlelight vigil at commercial centers in cities across the country in remembrance of the rights that once were for 18,000 marriages], and, of course, the Day of Silence [April 17, 2009, which brings attention to bullying of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students in schools].
How did you feel when 8 passed?
Personally, I was devastated. I identify as bisexual, and the thought that I may one day never be married was a crushing blow. I was honestly ashamed to be a Californian. Quite a few of my friends and I put pieces of fabric that said “Second-Class Citizen” on our backpacks, and most of the GSA wore all black on November 5.
Also, I mentioned [my former middle school teacher]. I didn’t do him justice. He is also an out gay man, now married to his life partner. We’ve kept in touch because I plan on pursuing art as a career, or becoming an art teacher myself. He's one of the few true activists in Danville. He helped me in middle school, when I was struggling with accepting who I am. He was the first person I came out to, my freshman year. He helped me come out my sophomore year at school, and my junior year to my family. He’s always been there to put a smile on my face, and been my shoulder to cry on. He’s my hero. And when your hero calls you, telling you that everything’s going to be okay, we just have to fight a little bit longer, and to be strong, even though you can hear the tears in his voice, it breaks your heart. If it wasn’t enough to feel like my rights had been taken away … that’s what caused me to break down.
What did it mean to you personally to see Proposition 8 defeated?
If it had been defeated, I would have been overjoyed. I may not be considered socially equal, but legally I would be. California is known for being ahead of the game, and many other states follow our lead. And when it is finally struck down, I’ll be able to feel all that.