By Sara Hahn, 17, Mayfield Senior School
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‘I haven’t been teased’

Javier Hernandez, 18, a recent graduate of Century High School who currently attends East LA College, came out six months ago when his family discovered gay pride paraphernalia in his room. Though his mom has had a hard time with it, Javier said he has found support from friends and teachers. "All through high school, I haven’t been taunted or teased because of sex … I think it’s because of my personality. I’m fun-loving, and I don’t make enemies."

Javier is involved in Jovenes in Action, a gay and lesbian organization which gives youth a place to meet and hang out. Every month the group puts on "Divas Live," a drag show that he’s been participating in since August. Teens get to listen to a DJ, eat and dress outrageously. Javier, who was on the Color Guard for four years in high school, likes to perform in his color guard outfit, a wig and makeup. At one of his latest performances he sang "Heartbreaker" in tight jeans, a red spaghetti-strap shirt and black heels.

Is that the gay lifestyle? "The gay lifestyle is whatever makes you happy … Am I here to impress you? I wasn’t put here to make you happy, I’m here to make myself happy," Javier says. To him, gay is just slang, as in weird, or happy.

Javier added: "If you’re lost or confused and you have nowhere else to turn, just remember there are places there to help. All you have to do is ask."

‘Pick a gender’

Brigitte, 17, of Hamilton Music Academy, said she realized she was bisexual when she was 14. "A girl expressed feelings for me and I realized I felt the same about her," she recalled, though now she has a boyfriend. "I’ve experienced mild harassment at school. When people find out that I’m bisexual, they either tell me to pick a gender, or assume I’m into threesome stuff."

However, school faculty members are supportive, she said. "A good example is the teacher who runs the Christian Club, who defends gays and lesbians against the students that use Christianity to validate their biased beliefs. There are also several ‘out-gay’ teachers at my school," she said.

‘Nothing is wrong with who we are’

Jose Moran, 18, a Marshall High School senior, said he has been hassled because he’s gay. He said he hopes to become a gay activist, or maybe a teacher helping gay students. "Nothing is wrong with who we are. We are all part of the world, part of nature, and we should be in harmony with each other."