Wesley Ferguson, 18, told his family and friends he was gay when he was a high school freshman so that he would no longer be hidden in the shadows. The national moment of silence after the Parkland …
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Wesley Ferguson, 18, told his family and friends he was gay when he was a high school freshman so that he would no longer be hidden in the shadows. The national moment of silence after the Parkland shooting in April spurred an emotional response that propelled him to take action. These days, the senior leads walkouts and peaceful protests for gun control and LGBTQ rights and is part of an outreach organization that encourages youth to register to vote. He plans to study technical theater, with a focus on stage management, in college.
“I just have to speak out. It’s my duty. It’s what I have to do as a human being in America. I have to use the rights that I’ve been given and do what I can to spread goodness in the world.
“I first questioned my sexuality in sixth or seventh grade. By seventh grade, I was pretty sure, but I didn’t really tell anyone, and I was kind of scared to come out because I was like `I don’t know anyone else.’ I came out in ninth grade, around September. I was real proud of coming out as a freshman. All of the upperclassmen that I knew in theater company were just so supportive, and I was like `Oh, my gosh, why didn’t I do this earlier?’
“Being gay defines who I am but, at the same time, it doesn’t. People are like `describe yourself.’ And I’m like `Well, I do a lot of theater, and I do art, and, oh yeah, I guess I’m gay.’ I try not to play up the gay stereotypes. I try to kind of avoid them and just be who I am … I’m really lucky to be gay in the time that I’m gay, so it makes me thankful for being alive now … It’s made me aware of how lucky I am, but also of how much I still have to fight — and people like me still have to fight. I’m also very lucky because I was never really bullied by a single person for being gay.”
“I would like universal background checks. I am in favor of an assault weapons ban because it’s a weapon of war and if we’re doing other things the way we should, nationally and globally, we shouldn’t need weapons of war in our homes. We shouldn’t need to be scared of people the way that we are … An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind … I want others to be more accepting of people and be able to see that everyone is human. I believe that hope and humanity is the ticket to safety and prosperity for everyone.
“I want people to understand that gun violence isn’t only about mass shootings, it’s also about things like suicide ... It affects us all. It’s not just about your rights. It’s about my rights. And her rights. And his rights. And their rights over there.
“Everyone has some reason for being the way they are ... They were rude in line because they woke up late and, maybe yesterday, a presentation they had didn’t go well. They were rude on the road because their sister is sick and in the hospital, and they’re really just concerned about getting to her. People aren’t unkind because they want to be unkind, they’re unkind because something made them that way … Anger begets anger, goodness begets goodness. If you can just eliminate all of the anger and all of the distraction in your life — and keep focused on positivity and spreading that — the world would just be a better place.”
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