Kierstin Phillips

Despite the challenges they face, LGBTQ+ students of SHS have refused to be anything but unapologetically and unequivocally themselves. From exploring their identities to coming out to finding acceptance, it has been a life-changing journey for many. We talked to five LGBTQ+ students about their experiences.

Zyva Sheikh, Editor

SHS’s student body is a melting pot of races, religions, and viewpoints. It’s also home to a thriving LGBTQ+ community.  

Although the LGBTQ+ students whom we interviewed said that they are treated well on campus, claiming that they face discrimination in society is an understatement. Many Americans are unaware when it comes to the struggles this diverse community faces, and as a result, there are always people ensuring that they can not peacefully live the life they deserve.

This discrimination is reflected by tragic statistics about LGBTQ+ students. For example, the percentage of LGB students who have actually attempted suicide is five times higher than that of heterosexual students nationwide. The CDC found that 28 percent of LGB students have been electronically bullied, and 12.5 percent of LGB students have not gone to school at one point because they felt they would be unsafe. 

Clearly, discrimination is still not behind us. There have been over 100 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year. Whether it is barring transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity or refusal to marry same-sex couples, these bills have one thing in common: legalizing discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

Despite the challenges they face, LGBTQ+ students of SHS have refused to be anything but unapologetically and unequivocally themselves. From exploring their identities to coming out to finding acceptance, it has been a life-changing journey for many.

Here are the coming-out stories of five ‘Noles:

Isael Rivera-Camacho


Identification: Homosexual Male

[My parents did] things, like cut my hair, to make me look more ‘masculine.’ It has been a rough year due to their very negative reactions. I lost count of how many times I’ve broke down in class, or of the sleepless and damp-eyed nights that have resulted from them. I try to forget that and focus on the endless support provided from my friends at school. If I could tell people something about us, it would be that we’re human, too. We have feelings, we get hurt, we cry, we get angry. There is no need to degrade anyone [because] of differences.”

Matthew Koonce


Identification: Transgender Male, Asexual Panromantic

“I came out to my mom a few months [after I came out to my accepting friends], and she’s still in denial. She refuses to use my preferred name, and my pronouns. Being a president [of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club], you have to be a leader. I’ve had friends whom I’ve helped discover their own identities, and it is really rewarding to see their relief knowing that this is normal and it’s okay. The most difficult parts of coming out are having to know when if it’s safe and if I’ll be in danger when I’m out at school. Especially last year, coming back after the Pulse shooting and after Trump was elected, I had four panic attacks within an hour because I was so scared and nervous.”

Jacob Muldoon


Identification: Homosexual Male

“I officially came out on Coming Out Day. One of the main reasons I did not come out [earlier] is [because] I did not think that I was strong enough to take the criticism. I used to be bullied before I came out in middle school, [but] now that I have come out, I don’t really care what people say or think of me. Last year, this guy cyberbullied me after I dressed up for Thespian Dress Up Day. Since I was out and confident, it didn’t faze me. For so long I felt like something was missing, and it was that I wasn’t true to the people around me.”

Alex Bell


Identification: Queer, Transgender Male

“You never really stop coming out. Of course there’s the big First Time, but at this point I come out so often that I just do it through jokes. I came out to my parents through a letter [because] it allows a bit of distance. Thankfully, I have a very accepting family that supports me wholeheartedly. [However], I’ve lost friends indirectly [by coming out]. One interesting reaction I had was when I got my legal name changed. The judge told me, “You know the recent Supreme Court decision won’t necessarily mean I can do this for you, right?” Now, context here. That was the decision on gay marriage; it would only affect me if I was being married off at the ripe age of fourteen, not getting a name change! The best part [of coming out] is that my worldview has changed a lot. I know what it’s like to be perceived by my peers as both a guy and a girl. I understand the pressures and gender roles applied to each.”

Drew-Michael Weiss


Identification: Homosexual Male

“Negative reactions are few and far between. I remember my step dad telling me everyone would call me [derogatory terms]. Some of the straight girls want gay best friends, and there have been times in the locker room where ‘queer’ has been screamed at me. However, I had the privilege of helping the guy who screamed ‘queer’ in the locker room come out to his parents. If you keep an open mind and active heart, anything can be changed. I think the most important thing is to have focus on trans people, especially trans people of color, [because] most queer people who are killed are black trans women.”

Resources for LGBTQ+ Students:

GLAAD Resource List:

The Trevor Project:

Safe Schools Coalition:

GSA Network: