Creating GSA and Celebrating Pride in High School

October 20, 2020

By David D'Isola

My name is David, I am 25 years old, raised in Lynn Massachusetts. As a young child I was diagnosed with Autism, learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities. I also struggle with depression, OCD and anxiety.

I attended a small Catholic school until the 8th grade then moved to Special Education School through my senior year. I have volunteered with many organizations that help the LGBTQ+ community and organizations that help families with children with disabilities.

I love live theater, the arts, dance and every genre of music. At age 5 I started ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop classes and performed in our local productions. I have always had a love for dance, in elementary school when asked to write down our dream job mine was to be a Lady Gaga back up dancer.

Today I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I work for a local live music theater and still enjoy dance. I regularly take Zumba classes and find ways to help the community.

My name is David, I am 25, I’m on the spectrum and have complex learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and OCD.

This is the story of how I created the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in my high school. At the time, it was the first in a private special school for kids with complex learning disabilities. Creating this GSA led to my being the recipient of the Elsie Frank Scholarship from Greater Boston PFLAG and a Leadership Award from North East Arc, a National Program for people with disabilities.

I have been blessed with the amazing support of my family and friends, and together, we learned about Gay-Straight Alliance. For 2-1/2 years, I asked my school to create a GSA the response was always “No,” so I wrote them the below essay explaining why it was important. I hope my story inspires others to pursue what they believe in and help to pave the way for future generations:

Hello, students and staff,

I am here to share my story with you about coming out and what my experience was like. I know you are probably expecting a sad, long story about how no one accepted me and threw me aside, but my story is different. When I came out, I was lucky. I have a loving family and support system for as long as I can remember. 

I have always been gay since day one, but as I grew up and started to discover more about myself, I realized I didn’t like girls, and when people were saying ‘Hey, you see that cute girl over there’ in my head, I was like, ‘What about that cute boy?’ Long story short, I felt like I was living a double life, and every day, it was killing me on the inside. 

On June 11th, 2011, I came out to my mom. I knew she was going to be fine with it and still love me, but I was still nervous, so when I told her, she said, ‘Okay. Let’s find a social group where you can meet great people.’ It was a giant weight off my shoulders. That night when I got home was like any other night of my life. All that was different was that I was now ‘free to be me’ and my mom talked that night,  and she said, ‘David, I knew since you were 4.’ ‘What, why didn’t you tell me?’ Wait, now that I look back at it, I was really excited when my sister’s princess nightgowns were clean, and I use to do my nails every night and pretend I was a supermodel. 

There were people out there that are homophobic and hateful, but what I say is to give hate all the attention it deserves: None! Because the more we pay attention to that, the more people think it is okay to bully and die by suicide. I have never had a problem with bullying because of my sexuality, but if anyone ever did, I would think to myself, ‘It’s okay, I can’t change. It’s their problem, not mine.’ I would take a step back and carry on with my life just is.

I don’t know you. In the end, all that matters is that you are happy, and don’t forget you were born this way. I just want to say thank you to Leah, Kaitlen, Kaitlin for helping to run an amazing GSA, Gay-Straight Alliance, for the school. I also want to thank my mom and step-dad for loving and supporting me every step of the way. And last but not least, I want to think Bob for being an awesome counselor. I don’t know what I would have done without you and your positive thoughts and mindset that help me through the day!”

To learn how to create a GSA club at your school, GLSEN the ACLU, and GSANetwork.