Justice Crusader

From his high school GSA to a path toward international and immigration justice, Camden Goetz looks for tools to make the world a better place.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the vague life goal to make the world “better-ish.” However, in elementary school and middle school, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to accomplish this. Writers, politicians, teachers: they all improve the world. How was I, personally, supposed to make the world the “most better-ish?”

I started to piece together the answers to that question when I joined my high school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in the ninth grade. Right away, it was a perfect fit. We were instilling justice in our school through education, support, policy, protest, and more. Although I joined other groups in the school, nothing quite “clicked” like being an activist in my GSA. In my work with my advisor, co-leaders, and other members, I could see a tangible difference being made. Although backlash from students and faculty was difficult to take,
I never once questioned that what we were doing was important and necessary. Joining this group gave me the activist itch, and assured me that direct activism was the best way to make the world better.

Although I started with this group, most of my activism since the ninth grade has taken place outside of it, and it’s in these groups that I not only focused my life goal, but also found a career path. In my work with PFLAG, GSAFE, and other groups, what’s always interested me most are the laws and policies that affect our lives. To me, social constructs and behaviors are important, but blurry and difficult to analyze. Laws and policies are more clear-cut and give me weapons to wield in the fight for justice. When I lead workshops on theory and constructs, I feel like I’m telling the participants how the world is and how it should be. But during sessions on law and policy, it’s like I’m handing out tools to dismantle these oppressive systems, making concrete steps towards a “better-ish” world. I’m lucky enough to have a chance to make a career out of this passion for law and policy by going on to college and maybe law school. There’s no way I’d rather spend my life than by giving people these concrete tools to improve our world.

I feel incredibly indebted to the groups and individuals that have helped me discover this passion and career path. Although I started out in the LGBTQ movement, I’ll be focusing more on international and immigration justice when I head to college in Boston this fall. However, no oppression occurs in isolation, so I plan on using the knowledge I’ve gained about queer issues and other oppressions to help make this world a place we can all thrive in.

Every person in the world has a way they can make this world better, from writing to protesting to simply being themselves. I’m incredibly grateful to those who have helped me find my way to make the world better-ish, and I can’t wait to spend more of my life using law and policy to instill justice in our world. n

Camden Goetz hails from Wisconsin Rapids and is heading to Tufts University this fall to study international relations, and uses the pronouns he, him, and his.