CSUN Elementary Education Department Chair Gregory Knotts introduced GMCLA’s Music Director, Ernest Harrison to deliver the Keynote Speech at the Rainbow Graduation services held on May 20th at CSUN at Northridge. An excerpt from Mr. Harrison’s impassioned speech is below:
Be visible, family. Be visible. I cannot explain to you the impact having queer representation in my life at a young age would have made on me. I tell GMCLA this all the time, but as a black man from the South growing up in the church I cannot explain how it would’ve rocked my world view to have seen 200 gay men singing on stage about how life gets better.
Family, please do not underestimate the power of visibility. There are places in this country where we are being legislated out of existence. There are places where you can’t say Gay in schools, which is a clear sign to students that is not ok for them to be Gay, which means that they will eventually hear the real message, that it’s not ok for them to “be.” The future generations of LGBTQIA+ kids will need us for every vote, every march, and every fight but more than all of that… they need to see you. They need to see us living loudly and without shame. They need to see us thriving because visibility matters. Seeing you walking out whatever is calling your name in this life is a clear indicator to them that there is life beyond their current circumstances. They need to see us LIIIIIIIIIIVE!
There are currently an estimated 2 million LGBTQIA+ identifying youths in this country. More than 45% of them have considered suicide. The blood of LGBT youth from suicide due to lack of affirmation, visibility, and validation is on the hands of those who have built those walls and we will tear them down, but in the meantime we must live LOUDLY so that every single queer child will know that there is life ahead. These institutions of oppression may be able to deny the storm but they cannot silence the wind.
Family be visible, be loud, be exactly who you are and all of who you are because it may save somebody’s life. Congratulations to the class of 2022.
A link to the graduation invitation can be found HERE.