The Power of SOJOURN

Our high school intern Carolyn gave this speech at Purim off Ponce 2016. Her words were so powerful we wanted to share them here with you. Thank you, Carolyn!

 

When I was fifteen I stood up during dinner and terrified stated, “Mom, Dad. I have an announcement to make. I’m bisexual. This means I’m attracted to my gender, and other genders. Any questions? Goodnight.” And I went upstairs, and we didn’t talk about it for about a week. But it felt good. You see, there are two types of secrets, I think. There’s the kind that sits comfortably inside of you. Your body makes a home for it, accepting that this secret is uniquely yours and so it stays, a hidden part of you. And then there’s the secret that shouldn’t really be a secret. It tries to eat its way outside your body to exist on top your skin and so your body forms a cage to keep it trapped inside. I felt like a lie. Everywhere I went I’d look around me and think “I’m lying to you, I’m lying to you, you’d leave me, so I’m lying to you, I need you, so I’m lying to you.” This type of secret is corrosive. It burns. A few years ago I came out to my parents, and for the first time I did not feel like my body was a cage, like my insides were literally burning with something to tell. Nobody should have to live with these types of secrets inside of them. The first time I saw Robbie speak was the first time I realized coming out wouldn’t kill me, because somewhere, some people would accept me. 

SOJOURN made me realize that Georgia, a place I’d previously understood to be a black hole of ignorance and bigotry was actually a home to a vibrant LGBT community. With SOJOURN I marched in Pride, supported by thousands of screaming, flamboyant, and loving people.  I stood with religious leaders of every denomination against a bill I knew would not hurt only me, but the many other lovely people in the community I had come to call home. Proud to be a part of SOJOURN, I came out to my community, a decision, which has made me happier than I ever, thought I could be. In SOJOURN I realized I had protection, and love, and a support system. I had felt so alone. I want other people to see that they have this support. Georgia is not a hugely accepting place. But there is a beautiful community of accepting people.  Finding them was incredible. 

I want to bring SOJOURN to other people’s communities. I recognize how extraordinarily lucky I am in the love that I receive from my friends and family. Those that don’t have this immediate support system shouldn’t have to reach out through computer screens to people thousands of miles away in order to find an accepting community.  I want people to know that there is a place actively advocating and fighting for them. It isn’t far away, or online, it is here, in Georgia, and through the Southeast.  It is for you. 

Thank you for supporting this organization, it means the world to me. I have watched it transform perspectives, environments, and communities. There is no change more important. 

Thank you. 

 

 

 

To support SOJOURN online, visit sojourngsd.org/donate.

 

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Robbie Medwed

Robbie Medwed began working with SOJOURN when it was known as The Rainbow Center as a volunteer in 2008. He served as chair of the TRC Advisory Board and as co-chair of Purim off Ponce (2010, 2011) before moving into his current role as Assistant Director, where he oversees SOJOURN's educational programming and outreach, including our award-winning workshops and training seminars. Robbie holds a master's degree in Jewish education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has written curricula and nationally-recognized inclusive programs for the Marcus JCC of Atlanta, BBYO, USY, Camp Ramah, the Jewish Teen Funders Network, Babaganewz, and JewishGPS. Robbie is also a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and cyclist. Robbie can be reached at robbie@sojourngsd.org.