In celebration of National Coming Out Day on Tuesday, Oct. 11, Nueva faculty and staff members shared their reflections.
Amber Carpenter, upper school English teacher
You are the keeper of your story, whatever that may be. There is no rush to share your truth(s) with the world or with those closest to you. This is a time for exploration, and without a doubt, it surely includes both major hardships and pure joy. My advice? Find a support system, even if that involves one person in your life. Also, cling to moments of joy; those are the moments that will armor you through the tough stuff.
Janita Kumar, middle school administrative support and cross country coach
I took a photography class in college where we were assigned a self-portrait project. The photo could not include my face, but instead tell a story about my identity. This was during a time where I was questioning my sexuality and finally accepted myself as a queer woman. I decided to utilize this opportunity to come out in public. I put a lot of thought into my self-portrait and finally came up with an idea I was satisfied with. The photo was of me and my partner holding hands in front of a pride flag. We were required to present our portraits in front of the whole class. Although the class consisted of students I did not know outside of school, I was still terrified to reveal this very important part of my identity. I finally presented and the class praised my bravery. I left class feeling like I was on top of the world. I look back at this and wonder what I was so afraid of. Was it fear of judgment? Maybe, but I quickly realized that everyone in that class supported me for who I am. Queer and proud.
Aviva Jacobstein, upper school counselor
The US is currently in the midst of an adolescent mental health crisis, and recent prevalence studies show that LGBTQ+ youth are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges and experiences of discrimination based on their gender identity and/or sexuality. As the upper school counselor, I do not take lightly how important it is for our queer kids to feel supported and welcomed in their school environment. Having at least one stable relationship with a supportive adult is the number one protective factor for resilience in children and youth. By being out at school and in my role, I hope that I can be a part of helping our queer kids to not only feel supported at school, but also to have themselves reflected in the adults around them at Nueva.
Jes Muse, San Mateo facilities and operations manager
Being "out" is not a choice for me, it is a necessity. I came out at 19 to myself and friends but it wasn't until I was 22 that I came out to my immediate family. I had grown tired of deflecting the questions about boyfriends and why I chose to dress the way I did.
Coming out took some time. I had to unlearn some of the tragic mistruths about queer folx that I had subconsciously absorbed while growing up. I was able to do that, in part, because of the visibility of the LGBTQ+ people that I saw in my daily life.
So, why is it important to be out?
Because being visible is the easiest, most basic thing you can do to help others who may be silently struggling with their own coming out.
Chris Scott, upper school Japanese teacher
On Sunday, June 26, 2022, the day of the Pride Parade in San Francisco, my husband and I were in Istanbul, Türkiye, a place where LGBTQ+ people continue to face persecution. Nonetheless, we found a place of refuge and solidarity in these rainbow stairs on a hilly side street near the beautiful Bosporus. So, on this National Coming Out Day, even as we proclaim, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” let us remember that not everyone in the world has the freedom or the luxury to come out and live as they are. At the same time, let us recommit ourselves to realizing a world where everyone can be themselves regardless of who they are or who they love.