LGBT @ HCP: James

Camila Gonzalez, Kaitlyn Smith, Reporters

C: One thing people really like about Harding is the diversity.

K: But it’s not just racially diverse. There are also students of several different sexual orientations.

C: I’m Camila Gonzalez.

K: And I’m Kaitlyn Smith.

C: And this is LGBT@HCP.

K: Brought to you by the Marionette.


C: Hello. Welcome to the very first Marionette podcast of 2016. And today we are here with junior James Wood. So, James, just introduce yourself to the people and tell us about you.

J: Well, thank you for having me. This is like all official. I love how it’s a podcast, so you can’t see my face. It’s very nice, so I can look like trash. But, other than that, I am a part of the GSA club that we have here at Harding Charter Prep. It’s really just there to make a safe space for everyone, ‘cause it can be a hard environment. Very cruel. Especially at Harding. And my name is James, if I haven’t said that already. And I came out at 16. Pretty young compared to most others.

K: What was the toughest part of coming out?

J: I would say the toughest part of coming out was the whole mentality of doing it. You always have this imagination of what’s going on, like this hurricane in your head of if this is gonna happen or x, y, z. A whole bunch of things the hardest thing was to actually get to the point of saying it. At least, for me it was the problem. I could say it to myself and I was already out to my grandma. And I don’t consider that me being out because she was really accepting. So she was the only one that knew in my family at the time. And I just had these whole ideas of “oh, Christianity,” and the whole idea of biblical verses and how things run my faith. And I just went through these multiple roads of “oh, this might happen, and that might happen.” It was a very complex situation because it wasn’t like most others. I did not live with my parents at the time, so I was not worried about being kicked out, which is really drastically different from all other people or other homosexuals or whatever your sexuality is. The whole idea of possibly getting kicked out, me getting kicked out, wasn’t there. Which is a very specific aspect that most others don’t share. Because after I came out, almost the reverse happened. I moved back in with my parents. And it just sort of led to where I am now today and I was constantly discovering new ways to live my life as a homosexual in this postmodern day society. Especially since we live in the Bible Belt. Even though it is difficult, I feel like this is a good place for me because I really help others.

C: I was wondering when you mentioned moving back in with your parents, was that related to you coming out or did that just happen to occur at the same time?

J: It did relate to coming out because my parents automatically thought since I was gay I must have been doing drugs. A whole bunch of mind boggling ideas. I know you’re laughing right now but the thing I find it…Homophobia. Phobia; the definition of phobia is fear or hatred of. I like to think it is a hatred of, but I like to treat it as if it is a real fear. Treat it like an arachnophobia. If a person is afraid of spiders, are you gonna throw a spider at their face? No. You gotta ease them into whatever their fear might be. So, in my case, I’m not gonna get a jar of spiders and break it everywhere and just freak them out. You’ve gotta slowly ease them into it. So, that’s how I’m treating homophobia at this point. It is a difficult challenge sometimes. You have to be very patient. But at times I realize this is something that has to be treated lightly. And not as a black and white issue, because it’s not. It’s completely gray. Because, especially with the media nowadays, there’s always the blame game. You really have to think of aspects of how they were raised at the same time and the surroundings where they live. Sometimes it’s just protection for themselves. Like, for instance, my mother. Really, I have to think about that because really I have to focus on what is best for both of us right now. Because for me to just say “I’m gay” and then leave them or drop them off, that would be as selfish as if they were to kick me out. So, you have to think about both sides rather than what the media is trying to portray as, “Oh, be independent! Be whatever you would like!” And I know most people who are probably listening to this right now are like, “What? Hold on. Wait, what? Don’t be independent? What are you trying to say?” I’m actually just saying think about your surroundings and think about other people. I mean, as much as you would like to be treated, treat other people the same way. If you’re afraid of heights, you’re not gonna go out on top of the building. So if my parents have homophobia, I’m not gonna move back in with a whole bunch of gay flags and then my drag queen outfits. I’m not gonna do that. So really just keep that in mind and don’t become an extremist because that’s what our society today has really taken on is extremism.

K: What advice do you have for someone who’s in the closet and wants to come out but doesn’t know how?

J: Well, I said I had good advice before I was even out to my parents, which is hypocrisy right there. After I came out, I really did realize how much I like being out. Because I used to convey all the time, “come out when you feel ready.” When you feel like you need to come out, come out. I have been taking back my word on that. And that might be shocking to some people. Because I really am afraid for people’s safety. And you can’t really see into someone’s life as much as they’re telling you. You can’t see everything that’s going around, so my biggest concern is their mental health and also physical health. Don’t feel pressured to come out. You see all these stories from every type of social media. Especially tumblr. Tumblr is the biggest LGBTQ group right now. And you see all these inspiring stories. I just keep telling them, “don’t feel pressured to come out just because everyone else is doing it.” The reason I focus on safety is because (you should) wait to come out until you’re completely independent, or at least you’re going to be, because you need an escape route because sometimes things can go south, especially in Oklahoma where we’re just surrounded by specific kinds of people. And really just wait until you know you have a safe support group. Support group is the number one thing. You really need to trust people and feel stable. That’s why GSA is here. I am here to help others. The reason why our group is not that big is because it’s public. It’s to the open eye. I have many GSA meetings. I have private messages on my phone, tons of private threads, to help people at our school. I know people that are in the closet still and I make sure that they feel comfortable and they have someone to support them because the closet is hard. It’s a dark place. I know there might be a lot of fashionable clothes in there, but it really rubs the skin the wrong way. GSA has just been so great because I can just really go deeper and especially just help the kids that are really just scared of the idea of homosexuality. And what I mean by that is…I’m just gonna say, straight people have the weirdest questions. They really do. They do. They’re just like, “I have this question. I’m afraid to ask it.” And I’m just like, “Well, ask me privately. I will be happy (to answer it.” “How does a straight person do this, x,y,z,” if you know what I’m saying. I’m just trying to educate as many people as I can. And really bring out the ally side of our school, which is wonderful. And I’m really glad that the administration picked up on that.

C: Alright, well since we’re straight people, do you have any weird questions for him?

K: Actually, no. You explained stuff well.

C: And I’ve known you for awhile and I’ve been to GSA, so I feel like we’ve talked about that.

J: I wanna ask you two some questions.

C: Okay.

J: Turning the tables here. What are your thoughts, since both of you – you (Camila) dabbled in GSA at the beginning, but school is chaotic and things take over.

C: Yeah, I really wanna get back to going regularly.

J: And you (Kaitlyn) haven’t been to GSA, correct? So, what do you think is happening inside GSA, not knowing what specifically it is?

K: I know it’s more like a support group for people who want to learn about what the different sexualities are. And, like, get to know people. And then it’s also for people, like what you were saying, that need help trying to come out and stuff. That’s just (how) I’ve got an idea of it.

J: Yeah, I’m glad you said that because my biggest fear is just the misconception of what GSA might be. And people are thinking, “Oh, it’s just a support group for LGBT.” No. I have had questions many times where I just don’t even touch on the idea of LGBT. I’m just like, “How are your guys’ days going? I know we have a paper due in two days. How is your mental stability? And are you this close to (setting) the place on fire?” I really try to focus on everyone. It’s just there to be a safe zone. And I really love that we convey that especially since you that haven’t been to GSA. That’s one of my biggest fears is having a misconception of what GSA is. And people are like, “Oh, they’re just gonna go to gay parades and just have a blast.” True. We’re really trying to focus on everyone, especially different types of sexualities. Because some people who are probably listening to this are like, “What the heck is a non-binary?”

C: And we’ll tell you in our future podcasts when we talk to some of those people.

J: Which is Ezra.

C: Shameless plug.

J: Yeah. I’m just glad I could be a part of it and actually the next interview she, they were actually the one, see they pronouns

C: Yeah, we’ll talk about pronouns next time as well.

J: They were actually the one that inspired me to actually realize what it means to come out, which later reflected my story. And I had a closet crush on them, which – oh, you guys probably don’t know what a closet crush is. When you’re trying to talk yourself out of your sexuality and you focus on, “oh, maybe I have a crush on her, or them, or (him).” And you really just try to talk yourself out of it. And they were one of them and I just needed to know they were not into what I have. So that turned out to be ironic. And another thing is, I had a girlfriend in middle school who I later met up with and she turned out to be gay, which is totally ironic but also completely fitting and that makes me so happy. And it makes me happy that it seems like the coming out range has been getting younger and younger. I’m really loving that. It’s just I really wanna focus on safety. I just want the best for any sexuality or any gender. That’s the thing. We’re really trying to focus on gender right now because it’s really misrepresented. Especially with….. Oh my God. It’s on the tip of my tongue…. Kim Kardashian?

C: Oh, Caitlyn Jenner.

J: Caitlyn Jenner. If you wanna talk about this later, not on the podcast, privately on my thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner, I have a really big aspect. But really don’t take media to heart. Ever. Because most of the news is not even news anymore and it’s under the entertainment light. So, really, it’s become an unreliable source. Just really think about yourself and not what other people are doing. Sometimes we forget that.

C: Well, I think that’s about it. Would you like to share when and where GSA is so if anyone’s interested they can come and check it out?

J: Yes! It’s Tuesdays from three to four. Every Tuesday. So just come and join us and have a blast. We really do have a good time. It’s ironic because I believe about 75% of our people in GSA are actually heterosexual. So yeah. Just come in. And we really wanna educate the public and say that we exist and we matter.

C: All sexualities welcome. And it’s still in Higginbotham’s room, correct?

J: It is actually in Ms. Smerker’s.

C: Alright. Ms. Smerker’s room. Well, if you’re happy with that, I think we’re good.

J: Thank you for having me.

C: Yeah, thank you for joining us.


C: Thanks for listening.

K: We hope you learned something new.

C: If you have any questions or positive comments, leave them below or email us at [email protected].