One day, during my freshman year at McMain I read in the local paper that one of the teachers at my school had come out as gay in the interview that he had with them. That teacher turned out to be Marco Menghini a Spanish teacher, he was brave enough to allow the paper to list his phone number in article. That very same day I called him to tell him that he had my support and we talked for a few minutes, not knowing what drove me to call him, I felt a calling to do it. The conversation ended with an invitation to meet in his classroom with a small group of students to discuss creating a Gay/Straight alliance on campus. When the day came to meet in his classroom, there was a lot of anticipation on my part, I was curious to know who the other students were and what they would be like. So, during the lunch period I headed to the meeting and there stood the folks that I would come to be friends with to this day.
That day we came up with the name “Student Alliance For Equality” or S.A.F.E and recorded a video introduction for the morning announcements. We ironed out a script for those who would speak and when the camera started to roll something weird happened. The person who was supposed to say his lines froze in fear, understandable considering the circumstances. For some reason, I remembered lines and stepped forward to recite them. It was like my alter ego pushed me forward and said the words for me. It went something like this (paraphrasing), “Hi my name is Ashton Woods and this is the Student Alliance for Equality, if you are gay, lesbian, or bisexual come and join us at the S.A.F.E club…we are family.” I am quite sure that some of the wording may have been different, but you get the point! Keep in mind that my actions during this recording facilitated my coming out to a student body of close to two thousand plus students. The prospect of this never scared me, but it set me up for triumph and failure on a scale that would take me years to come grips with.
I had help and friends to come and go over the years, like I said in a previous post "Why WE Must Support OUR Trans Brothers & Sisters NOW!" After I came out that I had some help through my coming out process, "I have had the privilege of meeting some great people who just so happened to be Transgender. When I was fifteen and still living in my beloved New Orleans, I would visit my life long friend Dee whose mother is friends with my mother. He lived around the corner from me and when I would visit him I would notice four people sitting on a porch, sometimes five, two to three women and two men. I had always spoken (its a NOLA thing) to them in passing and one day I was drawn to go directly and speak to them out of attraction to this beautiful man named Jeff. My attention was quickly stolen by a regal and stately elderly woman named Mrs. Williams, who I came to think of as my own family: "boy come on up here and sit on this porch.." she belted out in strong yet soft tone. It turns out that this group of people for a short time in my teenage life would be part of my chosen family! Amber, one of the women, out of the three happened to be Trans and I couldn't tell until she made mention of it."