Shmily Lin is a second-year student interested in life sciences. He enjoy long walks on the beach, naps, video games, and bubble tea. Writing is a therapeutic pastime.
I haven’t watched Heartstopper yet.
Don’t get me wrong–—I absolutely love the idea of getting more representation on mainstream media. I’m so incredibly glad that this story exists, that it gets attention, because queer romance deserves to be seen and spotlighted and shared.
But it’s so rare that any of us got this.
For many, many people, friends that I’ve known, and for myself, growing up as a queer kid meant a constant questioning for whether and where I really belonged. Hours, days, years spent caught in the throes of uncertainty, wondering, longing, shame. A childhood spent on the sidelines and adolescence behind curtains, and the sobering reality that we might spend the rest of our lives looking for places that won’t ever truly belong to us.
For me, Heartstopper represents my mourning for a coming-of-age story I never got, the coming-out moment I never enjoyed, and a teenage love story I’ll never have as I leave behind the last of my teenage years by the time school starts up again. And I know I’m not the only one.
I like to think of SMCInclusive as a kind of home, a mish-mash of people who have shared the universality of experiences like my own, but still as unique as the colours of a rainbow.
It was always about finding a home somewhere far away from home. It took me years to come out, it’s taking me years to learn to live, and it’ll probably be years before I can find my happiness in the grand scheme of things. But in all of that uncertainty, I am only sure that there are others out there just like me, lost and confused, wary. Hopeful.
I remember my own experience coming to a new country, with no friends, for a whole new chapter of my life. I couldn’t be certain that I would fit in, that I would enjoy it any more than I tolerated my sunny little town back home in California. The only information I got was on Reddit posts from years past, and those weren’t really informative or comforting.
I’ve never really spoken about my acceptance to St. Michael’s, that first few weeks where I was monumentally spooked by what I’d heard from the grapevine. And I’ll admit, I tried to transfer away, because I didn’t want to be associated with ‘the Catholic college’ or ‘the party school.’ I didn’t want to spend four years surrounded by people who might not be tolerant, a community that might scorn my very existence. I thought I would be miserable.
Finding SMCInclusive was like finding the golden drop in a bucket of water. It wasn’t anything about the scope of the events, or the amount of people, or the free merchandise (disclaimer: there isn’t any), but the mere principle of its existence. A sign that St. Mike’s is home to its very own corner of inclusivity, an affirmation that this place could be warm and welcoming and safe.
Finding the people was just like finding a family in a home. A group of incredible individuals, with dreams and passions and hair as colourful as their souls. A place where happy tears are shed and the most amazing moments occur. That if we had spent so long looking for places that truly belonged to us, then here, at least we could feel found with people just as lost as we are.
Here, we have movies and games, music and laughs, people to talk to and good food to eat. We share these memories as a blunt rebuke against a world that hates, and as a testament to our strengths. We foster growth and diversity, authenticity and hope. We see ourselves through every day, as a reminder of the amazing things that people can do when they come together.
And above all of us, the people who call it home, SMCInclusive also represents that good fight that needs to be fought. A reminder of this fateful month, over half a century ago, when that first brick was thrown, when the Stonewall riots began, when a movement for liberation started that echoes to this day. We picked up that call, and we carried it forward through every corner of this college, past every room in this university, and delivered it into the hearts of the people it was meant for.
This pride month, this year, we are reminded of the long ways to go.
We are reminded that there is always a ways to go. In our efforts, we have reached out to the incredible work of advocates and advocacy groups across campus. We have dug into the core of St. Mike’s, to look for the roots of hatred and intolerance and remake them into a place where people can flourish. And we’re only getting started.
So who are we then? SMCInclusive: St. Mike’s pro-LGBTQ2+ club, a home for everyone who needs it to be. A place where people can grow, and a place that keeps us growing. Every person here makes it unique.
A ragtag band of superheroes, looking to make a better future.