The Gay Straight Alliance Brings Back the Fun

The Gay Straight Alliance has been a regular feature of the Groton School club offerings for many years. As with any group, its membership has waxed and waned as the interests and enthusiasm of the student leadership evolved from year to year.

This year the club has been enjoying a bit of renaissance, led by five active Sixth Form heads: Ben Ames, Carly Margolis, Chloe Fross, Eliza Fairbrother, and Ray Dunn. The group has sought to bring a keen sense of frivolity and fun along with thoughtful examinations of what it might mean to be gay at a school like Groton.  For the first meeting of the year, students were invited to a pizza party and viewing of an episode of The Office. The subsequent conversation was both lighthearted and pointed as students discussed the biases and assumptions highlighted by the episode.

Early in the year, the Alliance hosted a bulletin board party that invited students to break out their glitter glue and construction paper skills.  The group has a dedicated bulletin board in the Mailroom that needed updating.  Using the theme from a series of YouTube posts, the students created a series of mini-posters around the theme “It Gets Better.” The result was a unique effort that showcased the wit and creativity of Groton students.

With the help of their faculty adviser, John Tyler, the group also has invited gay Groton alumni to return to the Circle to share with current students what it was like for them at Groton and how their lives are different now.  Eloise Lawrence ’91 returned with her partner, Kelly Begg Lawrence, and spoke about her experience on the Circle.  Eloise knew she was gay while a student at Groton and shared what it was like to come out to her friends and roommate. She described Groton as not being so much gay-unfriendly when she was here, but more girl-unfriendly. The derogatory term that was most cutting and that she heard most often was “skirt,” an observation that was eye-opening for everyone present. Julian Petri ‘04 and his husband Tom Miller returned to the Circle shortly after their wedding in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to share his experience both at Groton and beyond.  They talked about life at boarding school, gender roles, GLBT rights, and the benefits and opportunities of not quite “fitting in.” What struck the members of the Gay Straight Alliance is how devoted both of these alumni are to Groton and to their friends and formmates.

The heads of this year’s Gay Straight Alliance know full well that American society is not always an easy place for teenagers, gay or straight. They want to ensure that their peers have a place to discuss matters around sexuality in a safe and comfortable manner.  They credit John Tyler for this renewed balance between purpose and frivolity. The students are finding ways to engage the Groton community, gay or straight, that are open, welcoming, and fun.

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