Growing Up Gay In One Of America's Most Anti-gay Homes
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Two years ago this week QueerToday.com activists organized the largest ever protest of Focus On The Family's anti-gay Love Won Out Conference that features "ex-gays" who advocate sending gay teens to dangerous conversion camps. At the protest we set up a coffin to represent the many teens who have been victims of violent anti-gay crimes and those who have committed suicide due to homophobia.
Amy Contrada, of the vehemently anti-gay duo MassResistance, was in attendance that day. What none of us knew, was that she had the potential to be a "PFLAG mom."
This week Contrada's daughter Claudia is starring in the Acton High School Production of the Laramie Project despite the fact that her mother helped to organize a forum against it, and no doubt opened the door for the similarly anti-gay Fred Phelps crew to plan their own protest of the event.
In a most brilliant display of resilience Claudia is standing up as an inspiring role model for anyone, especially young people, struggling with homophobia in their homes or communities. In addition to her acting, some of the things Claudia speaks out about include animal rights, AIDS, and war.
Today in an exclusive interview with QueerToday.com Claudia has revealed that she is a lesbian.
It seems that for every young person we lose due to homophobia there are many more who are standing strong in the face of adversity.
Please leave your support for Claudia in the comments section, and purchase your tickets to the Laramie Project here.
1. Hi Claudia! Could you tell the readers of QueerToday.com what your participation in the Laramie Project has been like?
Being a part of Laramie Project is great because it’s such an important piece of theater. A lot of us in the cast and crew have been working together for a while so there’s this support we all give to each other.
2. What lesson/s do you think are important for people to come away with after they see the play?
The most obvious message is acceptance, but people also need to understand that Matthew Shepard’s murder was not just a one time kind of thing, but it can happen anywhere.
3. What is it like for you as a young woman of color in your community, school, and home?
It doesn’t really affect me that much. I mean when I was younger some immature kids would make a comment or two about my eyes or something, but now it’s not really a big deal because there are a lot of Asians in my town.
4. What is it like for you to be supportive of gay rights but have an anti-gay activist parent?
It’s difficult because we clash horribly. It’s really stressful because there’s always an argument going on.
5. What has your brother's experience been like?
He went off to college when my mom was starting up with her activist stuff so he hasn’t had to live for extended periods of time lately.
6. Do you have any advice for young LGBT people and/or their allies?
Life can be difficult, to the point where you just want to give up on it, but if you find strength in yourself and support in your friends and don’t let anything hold you back, things will eventually fall into place.
7. What inspired you to become interested in the rights of oppressed communities, and animal rights, etc.? Who are some leaders (alive or dead) you look up to ?
Well I love animals and have grown up with them so the thought of killing them or torturing them tears me up. It’s disgusting. As far as oppressed communities go, I know what it’s like to be prevented from being who you are. It’s painful and psychologically unhealthy. People shouldn’t have to go through that.
8. Do you identify as LGB or T?
I am a lesbian, which my mom still does not get. She just says that I am confused. I realized in around eighth grade, but I was in denial for quite some time because I was scared due to my mother constantly saying that homosexuality is wrong. How can it ever be wrong to love though? That’s what I’d like to know.