PRIDE STORIES | PAYING IT FORWARD
The following post was written by Elizabeth Pechota (They/Xe/She), Zeta Nu–Alma College, and is part of a month-long series of Pride-focused member stories.
It’s not easy growing up as a queer person in a small town. Everybody knows everybody, and word travels fast. That’s why many people who know me don’t know I am queer and gender-nonconforming. I remember people getting bullied throughout middle school and high school, and I didn’t want that to be me. As far as others knew, I was an ally. I dated men and kept my gender identity quiet. It was very lonely, but it was all I knew.
I didn’t know how things would change when I went to college. It was exciting; I was in a new place where I knew only a few people. I wanted to take the time to find myself and become who I wanted to be. Unfortunately, a toxic relationship put this on hold.
Not only did he disapprove of my identity, but also of several things I was involved in at school—my involvement in theatre, my new friends and my interest in sorority life. I didn’t finish Primary Recruitment my freshman year because of him, and that was the biggest regret of my life.
He was out of my life the following year, and I finally ran home to Alpha Gamma Delta. I found a sorority family that loved me for who I was instead of who they wanted me to be. When I came out to my chapter, they greeted me with open arms. For the first time ever, I felt supported as a queer person. This was a catalyst for my personal growth. I realized I spent the first 19 years of my life trying to please others, and I was finally working to please myself.
Today, I am an advocate for other LGBTQ+ individuals. I serve as the Education Chair for the Gay Straight Diversity Club where I lead many conversations that affect the community. I feel like I have found my calling, and I want to continue advocating later in life.
After graduation, I plan to attend seminary and help make the modern church a more accepting place for queer individuals. I want to use my passion for speech and education to help those around me who struggle with identity. I’m still not out to those in my hometown, but my experiences over the past two years have given me a strong foundation to stand proud as a queer, gender-nonconforming individual.
I have never felt more myself than I have in this past year; I’m proud of who I am, and I am going to make a positive impact in the world.
I want to thank the Zeta Nu Chapter at Alma College for being a huge part in my growth as a leader, and Alpha Gamma Delta whose Purpose inspires me each day. To my fellow LGBTQ+ members, keep finding yourself—it’s a journey that never ends. If you ever need anything, I am just a message away. Stay strong and stay proud!