A conversation with LGBTQ youth in Wyoming

Adam Rippon leads the discussion on 'Coming Out' on the 20th anniversary of Matt Shepard's death.
23:19 | 10/11/18

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Transcript for A conversation with LGBTQ youth in Wyoming
Are you guys thank you so much for being here nothing we can have I think that I'm really excited to have this conversation and I wanna start like a little bit. General. What is a blank to just be from Wyoming what does that mean to you. Well for one it's cold from. I'm very used to the cauldron the firsts in years ago. There's only like less than a 100000 of the people who convexity you know like our age and currently considering what born and raised in my room and soon. Which is kind of strange phenomenon. There's only so many of us and we ought unique experiences that kind of calm and experienced the same time. An agent in more than that Blake would what does being from Larry. Irons for me is. It. It's been weird because it fell on the main narrative in the way never thought at. Because I was born in color out of their Bittermann army from west and here is and so it's been you know. My high school my colors and junior high school college and lake. It's such as core part of my life now and all the people like Matt and I don't know it means when I was more declared a rare is definitely my home here it'll always be my home. Mayor me feels like home for India access and it. Can't. I also think it means love. So we certainly know what we travel out of the state Hugo couple stays that way you have parents that soccer kits look your life with Clayton could. We have our bucking Brecher I license plate. We also kind of living unit as this it is certain things that we know and that we expect that we funny stories about. And it includes that. Did you get five miles outside of neighborhood major towns or cities. And you basically have to prairie you don't have cell phone reception. And so I'm certainly deserves hear yeah. But there's also the sense that EO we take care of ourselves and we take care of each other so. Like if here noon to Wyoming what does somebody do here for fun what is there to do here and and Laramie Wyoming. There's no it's much slopes Blake. You can't just go to a store or shopping for five hours okay you have to drive out of town but there's so many places to highway can go skiing and snow queuing and and it's amazing because there's so much nature but you're a big fan and ancient and that's about Bob. I know all of you. Represents some part of LG BTQ community. And you guys are younger than I am and you've been out. You're out in your schools so I'm really curious some what you're coming out stories for like. You have interesting coming out story it's switzer is the most 2018 thing I've ever heard of it yeah. Well I'm very good at coming out spends. But. What first came up so my friends. I just kind of taxes and parents like. So I have something to tell you they sending me any differently if they're all like okay cool Saturday K. And then for my parents I'm Kevin nerd so I actually bought a book and I wrote a little note and I shoved in the book. And I want to dance class for three and a half hours. So ho ho and you guys that with the threat. And let you became. First in high school. On our concerned with friends look at stories. Easiest with friends. And I had to really amazing support group. Dries collect connect carried me. Through school and carry meter about process. And I mean it family was next and it was my sister's Ferris. And then my parents eventually have to about a year ago and premieres as the converter quick and dirty conversation in order to reflect. Like I aid today one negative. And in some way is it when I mean like my parents always have always forgive me about it again it's always so important you and it. Day when well and I think coming out is still a process of everyday life. You Leon my guess for me IAE came out hey school's well I do lose a sophomore. I actually. I told my partner first and snake. Chicken and trans I don't really know how to go about this. That we had a couple of teachers and a score is Ekuban hunt and they had. We have the save some training them into triangles on their doors that led students they're safe space and that you can talk to them and and my juniors when I started as slate. Aren't you normally do I'm just gonna start presenting. And I did for the most hurt and and went really well and then after that was Soros hike I thought I need to tell my mob because this whole time I was kind of pushing that off because. I'm. I wasn't necessarily scared of it but you always hear the narratives that like the parents who aren't. Partner accepting and I was just very afraid of that even though I knew who my mother was and wasn't necessarily expecting it. And so legislated words of encouragement cave mom accompanied to tell you something America percent options just need to tell me and sorrows like. And trans. And we are a lot of conversations about it but it she's very accepting and she's very accepting of me today. Like this that even before this service let KM it'd be doing this and should like cool because it's kind of second major leader because they. Ended up running for the school board because they have been so yeah. Because they were working on a transgender student policy and I really abdicated forever I was on a committee to review it and really push to recognize respect and make school more comfortable for transit and I'm Bernard students. Using pushed to have gender neutral bathrooms in the schools well yeah and as last graduating class the oil pay school. And aid that we had this one. The semi gender neutral bathroom in that was like on the opposite wing of all my classes and started to walk over that are. See actual memos to mention the quote good lack. Well it's a kind of with a gut follow up with that you know coming out sometimes is associated with. You know your fearful of a lot of things your fifa fearful of rejection from your family possibly from your friends. We knew guys came out what were your fears and I'm I'm really interested and in your coming out story is well. Because it you know what's so great about this conversation is that like weak at sit see so many. Different perspectives and and a generation. Of difference of what it was like. Especially being from here in in Laramie what was that like what reap what were your fears associated. With coming out. Well I'm not from my own I moved here to be a professor at the university and 1992. Making me blunder here nice big wallet. Yeah. But it. Got my coming Allenby won in early to mid twenties. So a long time ago in comparison. I came out and interesting I didn't Thomas when I came from a can have very strict Roman Catholic family. And my then partners book there. Thought that opened and that we decided we and they. This having a baby come in the mid eighties Vieri early you know there are. That is under the let's listen to Gaby who. And audience when. She hit so my partners mom. Believe that it would be best for me. Do tell my parents that I was lesbian rather than being a single mother because. The Catholic. I asked that he be knocked out right now. And so can almost be Bernstein doesn't immaculate conception. Eds I came out. Do my family when I was in my late twenties when I was pregnant. And then it came to Wyoming in 1992. Where my bed partner and our six year old son and my six year old son has enough on him and he's so does he step up comic in New York. And you know he was always right up well with his that he was never brought up to Hudson River right we were his mother's that that was it. And actually when he was little. It wasn't bragging. They and you know what's so amazing is that lake as gay people we really. Gravitate towards people who become our family. And whether that those are members of her own family. Or their friends are there people who you meet within an alliance like this. What is it meant to you to have people like that in your life. Yeah I do I how those people when I was first like figuring out that I wasn't straits. But it's really great now because I'm realizing how important this happens people. And it's really really amazing just getting to have supporter it's. And every single time I have a question like I know someone I can go to you and for a lot of my friends. I'm their support person for now because parents out to anyone. At some really nine. It's to get to be that person because I know how amazing it is to have like. That's support group and those people that you can go to serving that person is amazing tale. And so I'm curious. It's it's so wonderful to hear of your positive experiences of being out now I'm interest in to hear what your perspective of what you think. May be a gay lesbian or trans person would be going through in the ninety's. And I would really love to hear what was it actually like. During the events of Matthew Shepherd. 21 year old Matthew Shepard is in critical condition on a respirator. His skull was smashed he had been burned and tied to a ranch fence near the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Shepard's death has ignited nationwide debate on the issue of hate crime legislation. It's always. And so they have thought about accredited especially when I was in high school. Because at that time one day it was going through all it was a kind of there is almost actually some perspective because I was like I'm. I think I'm the one who showed up to the school board meetings and affect how I. I'm I'm here in this policy does affect actual students and Ziyi. The silent circle. Shirt a lot of individuals who can't come out and couldn't come out and although I've seen. Oh but historically those perspectives have changed it's still. Something that I caving grass. Having my own struggle from when I came out for us and high school. T even have that ability to do that in two. Have the ability to have conversations like this even it is something wrong. Liebman and from those moments you've given a lot of people strength yeah. And I feel like you don't even know then tip of the iceberg of what you've been able to do for you other people. But I'm shirt and living in those days in 1998. Was. Probably her thank. I don't know I've I I've but I am very interest in what what was that like. Well he should know that their worm gay rights organizations even before I came through Wyoming. Something that was called glow. Gays and lesbians of Wyoming I think was being. The actor and I campus in the seventies. Is rated so low before my time as well. It was glow and that when I was here was united gays and lesbians of lying down. And war and it went to respond to him and well as diligently fewer positions there was a campus organization in this neighborhood organization. For gays and on speed. And so. The notion that it was her real effect. Is probably a bit it is exaggerated and their heads that's. Face it it's Wyoming. Where a small were pretty isolated there were no gay bars. Or winds pick bookstores things like that existed elsewhere. But it certainly. Their word can. Gayle lesbian communities but IIs so what are my first drag shows great down the street. That happened in in the nineties here when it was here. Notably the murder. It but I want Wednesday that there. Why doesn't have homophobia. That's for sure. Mean the fact that I was the first openly a power queer faculty members certainly took me buys its. There was certainly. That fear and reality. Losing your job. I had I had notes put in my mailbox that I would be fired because I was getting needed to stop being active. What do you have to say somebody like her percent of Connolly who. Who's been there he's been putting in the work. And she represents. You guys today. There's so much power in there having somebody. That represents you that thinks like keep that. Is like you. In such levels of power that it inspires students. Now only of our community. But. Every student on this campus should be inspired by a copies a constant. Presence on this campus can't stand. Drive to make this campus a better place because. Without. Members like heard in this community in this campus. Students word it never see all the possibilities and their life. It is so hard when you only see one thing everyday attended a match in a world. Could be. Inclusive and anti discrimination and and powerful and lovely here enemies saying without seeing those members in your community and that's exactly look happy is to me. She's just as much of a beautiful amazing inspiring person this is the first of GP TQ. Faculty member on this campus those are equally powerful because good people do amazing things in this world. And happy it's true that them. When he years later. Are you proud of how far. Lamb has come. Well when you hit on the eternal optimism Jordan from the isn't it. According the first day. We can do more. I mean let's face it we can do more. Weak hand pounds statues. And includes national and confusion and gender identity in this. We hang. That our school facilities commission take into account having gender neutral bathrooms and it isn't because of construction of new schools is a lot more that we can do. And through its two folks to work well honestly there's. How do we do that. As a community. Could throw that I could throw that to you couldn't have been. There is so much more that has to be done in terms. Recognizing that the work still needs to be done because they're they're sickness that believe that it's all done already and not. It's just that. I. There's also segments. Still believe. He that we don't systems into the things break. And you know that's that's not education that's fine instant when it we need to stop that kind of lives. Thing and then there's an education. I mean there's a lot of work so what do you expect. I think. The biggest level dialogue and but this and you currently. Park your family play. I know I have my family generally accepting grade I do have family members who earned as accepting and so even having. Pushing a dialogue with when it's safe it is importantly bottom line steps. Addressing dialogues with classmates or if you're here instant that was enough that income. How just those based dialogue I think are good baseline and then if you can move forward. Policy to levels. For me it was the school board yeah there's opportunities that we and hate. That in mind fuel significant but it is a change it and just you know small things. Country world and you know what I love is that like you guys are voice for other students here in other young people that. Sentence don't feel like they're being hurt and and I feel like a lovely way to close this interview would be. What. Can you say to those kids that are still struggling what can you saint to give them the strength that you guys obviously have sitting here talking to me. I. I'm curious what wisdom can you give me what can wisdom can you give other young people struggling. Always safe dish that's. I think even today. There is students and unseat him in situations. That. Can jeopardize his who bitter because when they come out and we're. Situations like that put it beyond that they keep trying keep looking for that communities keep. Do anything you can defined assuming human exercise your own or use in your community. Are lying anything. Because as soon as you have the community around you it makes you feel less alone and. To say it always takes one that's one action one person. One. State men can change a person's life and can inspire. An entire country if it wants to and so. I feel like. You know talk to not represented publishers the first member. Openly out member and now. There is maybe not as many as we biked 38. You know maybe doubt there is how many open students is how many open staff that's how many open faculty. And it's just takes that one moment of periods to. Inspired. And entire school an entire friend group an entire. Community to live their Trenton and he sells and church but that your identity is and I would say you don't have to be a member of TP TQ. Community to stand up for it is almost just as powerful London I'll I stands up and says that's not right. This needs to be fixed I mean we all have a strong sense of morals. We all know it's right or wrong and summoned right invite people to take that practice and there I agree to and. Well for any if you don't feel safe right now weren't going to find a safe place to need. Because I'm really lucky I'm safe with my friends family and my school. A lot of people sometimes don't have any opposes. But you'll eventually fines at least one person or one place. You can be yourself and you can keep safe and happy with who you wire. And another thing is. If you want to make a difference but if you feel like you cantor if you can't make a big enough difference. On its real kind of a smaller difference does that make the biggest impact. Because for me I wanted to make a big difference but I realize but just. I think should talk to my friends and land on my butt and tell them it's OK. You're fine near normal but also justice power. Or fall as getting to. Go and change the world. And I'm not strike and it. Particularly. Then took him to say it over again it's. For I think for all of us regardless of what generation. Absolutely it has always been. We need community. And that we make our own we make room committee would meet her family seems more opportunities online right now that the news is that. Picking up the phone in. Getting that hug. Whether it is you virtual. Or with people around you from your family and friends. We need to act from each other and and we get it from Bryant again for its WTO and so too. Never forget them and health were in that it is that. We still need to be there were each that. Will. I can't thank you guys enough for sitting down and chatting with me this is then I mean I've learned a lot in. You guys you guys are so incredible and the work that you've done in continue to do is. You know you she changed a lot of people's lives so I'm really honored to be in this room today I just fine thank you guys so much for sitting and it's. We let it take you out at them in the mouth. Hey why isn't he still have cell percent. Obviously if he's OK I'm not about to go about my column you good.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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