I’m From Reston, VA.

by Phil Vollman

Satellite overhead image of Virginia from Google Earth 2022

When I was a sophomore I resurrected my school’s gay/straight alliance. My reign lasted three weeks but the lessons I learned will stay with me for a much, much longer time.

The first meeting went pretty well, and a myriad and interesting group of kids showed up at 2:15 in an art room that smelled of spray paint and portfolio-grade paper. All we did that first meeting was plan — something I had a talent for.

However, I soon realized that my GSA was about to plan itself to death after the fourth meeting. Because my town is essentially a bubble within a bubble, there were no personal issues being discussed. The meetings soon became rant sessions — very political ones.

The final meeting (the sixth, I believe) ended with a very nasty confrontation between me and the Co-President of the GSA — a mildly intimidating and extremely uncompromising girl who chewed me up over my “prude GSA.”

Sometimes, just being with people is more helpful than planning for an event everyone knows won’t happen; sometimes, more rules don’t create more order.

In retrospect, I can laugh about my leadership, but at the time the failure of my “October GSA” was a devastating blow that had an effect on my schoolwork and my self-esteem.

A year later I joined a well-run and amazing GSA — as a happily observant member. It was a hard thing to do, but I know that being an enthusiastic supporter is much more enjoyable than being a harried and temperamental leader.

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