Out Of My Comfort Zone And Into The OutCenter

Out Of My Comfort Zone And Into The OutCenter

A few things I learned from the research and experience of being an ally to the LGBT community.

Raised in a relatively liberal household, my parents both taught me to love everyone no matter how they look or sound, and to always get to know a person before I make a judgement on them. I was taught that there were very hateful people in the world and that stereotypes would follow us everywhere, but not to fall into the trap of the societal pressure of judging someone based on something they can’t control. As I got older, I started to experience the hate and the cruelty of the people in my town, especially against the LGBT community. I’ve always considered myself an ally to the LGBT community, and this year pushed me beyond my comfort zone, plunging me into the growing world of the OutCenter.

Being an ally is much more than simply accepting everyone for who they are; it’s pushing yourself to places you don’t see yourself being, and indulging in the community itself. Personally, if it weren’t for my senior service project, I would have never gotten involved in the OutCenter -- a non-profit organization that “ensures lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons and their families are welcome, respected, valued, understood, and afforded the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else” -- or met the influential and inspiring people I have (outcenter.org). Holding a concert to raise money for a local “Pride Prom” organized by the OutCenter is truly what pushed me into more and more research and knowledge about the reality of the LGBT community not only in the nation, but right here in my hometown.

From my research on hate-crimes, I’ve found that people don’t get involved unless something detrimental happens or if they are required to. I am a prime example of this. Sure, I considered myself an ally, but none of these people knew I existed and I never went to any events held for the LGBT community and their allies. So why do we wait for this? Why is it the societal standard to wait until someone is murdered or someone kills themselves to push us to raise awareness? With this, I’m not denying the importance of raising awareness once someone has passed away, but these things should be happening before something horrendous happens to someone. People should be honored every day for the amazing, life-changing things that they do within their communities and the world. Even if someone changes one person’s life, that is influential and should be being done worldwide.

Another thing found from not only my research but from the concert itself, none of these people knew we existed. And they also didn’t know all of these other allies existed. We made it known that the concert would be a safe-zone, a place where every single person no matter gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. was welcome and ensured safety and entertainment. So once the people started to come in, it was interesting to see how many allies were truly here in Berrien County. Along with that, I truly believe that not every ally of the community showed up, and that hundreds more are present in our area.

Being an ally and supporting the people in your community is much more than liking a status on Facebook, or saying hi to someone; it’s about directly putting yourself in their environment and their activities– getting to know them, going to see things they’re in, going to things held by the local organization. If you’re worried about being judged for going to a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting or going to a Pride event, swallow your pride. Going to the Pride Prom encouraged me to get to know new people and learn their stories, and it truly was the best time I’ve had in a long time. Don’t be scared to go out of your comfort zone and become a stronger ally to the communities near you, and always honor someone for doing something influential. Societal standards will follow you everywhere, but if you take a stand and in the wise words of Jack Black in "School of Rock," “Stick it to the man.” You will be that person making a difference in someone’s life. You will be the one making a change and potentially saving someone’s life in the process.

Cover Image Credit: outcenter.org

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.

I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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'The Farewell' Brings An Asian-American Narrative To Hollywood

I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.


The trailer for Lulu Wang's "The Farewell" was recently released. The film, based on Wang's own experience, stars Awkwafina as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who travels to China after learning her grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. "The Farewell" initially debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January, and currently holds a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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While "Crazy Rich Asians" portrays Asians in a way that is very much uncommon in Hollywood and American media in general and had a hand in helping to break stereotypes, "The Farewell" introduces a nearly universal first-generation American or immigrant narrative to Hollywood. In doing so, the film allows many members of the Asian-American community to truly see their own experiences and their own stories on the screen.

For me, the trailer alone was enough to make me tear up, and I've seen many other Asian Americans share a similar experience in seeing the trailer. The film reminds us of our own families, whether it's our grandparents or any other family living overseas. I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.

"The Farewell," which is scheduled for release on July 12, 2019, depicts a family dynamic in the Asian-American experience that hits home for many, including myself. The initial critical response, especially towards Awkwafina's performance, is certainly promising and will hopefully motivate more Asian-American and other minority filmmakers to bring their own stories to Hollywood.


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