Gay. Mexican. Catholic. Single-Parented. Immigrant. Lower Class.
These labels are mine for the rest of my life, but they will never stop me from achieving what I dream of doing with my life and creating a better world along the way. My name is Vicente Lezama, and I came to the United States at the age of nine knowing only one English phrase: “Thank you.” I have come a long way from who I was when I first arrived to who I am now.
It wasn’t until high school that I found my passion for being a leader and for being involved in school clubs. It was also during my sophomore year that I stopped denying who I truly was, a proud gay man.
Being myself made me realize how strongly my school needed a Gay Straight Alliance. I began working with two advisors, and that year we did our first Day of Silence, something that turned out pretty well. Then, the summer before my junior year, I attended the Leadership Training Institute for the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools.
Without this camp, I would not be the person I am today. LTI helped me discover that even though I came from a small, closed-minded town, I was not the only one, and that there were other people to help me achieve the things we wanted for our GSA.
Junior year was the big year for our group. We wanted to make our school better and safer for the queer students who were attending Fond du Lac High School. Overall we accomplished many victories, such as doubling the participation in the Day of Silence. My senior year, I had the privilege of co-leading the GSA with my best friend, Cassidy Duquaine. Since it was our senior year, we wanted to make it the best year and advocate as much as we could. Throughout the year we accomplished many things, and we also helped to build strong new leaders and members in the GSA so that it could continue to grow in the years to come.
In the spring of my senior year, I was awarded the Youth Scholarship for GSAFE. It was an honor to receive it, as I thought I would never have a chance. I never expect anything in return for what I do, so it was truly amazing to receive the scholarship and to give a speech in front of so many advocates, especially my mom.
My mother has always been there for me, and without her I would not be who I am today. She has done everything in her power to provide for us not only financially, but also emotionally. I thank my mom for everything, even though she had a hard time when I came out to her. I think that’s why I want to continue helping my community more, because I want to make her proud. I want to change the world. I want to make a world in which we all care for each other and accept each other for who we are: human beings who can live in harmony.
Since I am living at home while studying cosmetology, I am glad that I get to continue making a difference in my community through GSAFE. I am still part of my school’s GSA as an advisor. In the future, I hope to create a group similar to the GSA, but in the community, where adults can advocate and talk about their stories, too. I plan on making a foundation called Let’s Make It Work, where we help people in need in the community. I had intended to move to Chicago to study, but over the summer I realized that this community needs me. Once I have accomplished my mission here, maybe then it will be my time to fly away and continue putting smiles on people’s faces and making a difference in other locations around the world. Gracias.