LGBTQ+ Club Comes Out after COVID


New York City Pride in June, 2022.

It was a dull day soon to turn on itself, and as I got in the room I felt the fuzzy, sweet atmosphere and its people radiating off it.  People welcomed me as I stepped in. It was a large room that had many seats. A sea of desks covered half of the room, the other being a computer station which was mostly empty. The amount of people had grown exponentially as there were about thirty people and I felt free for who I am.

The LGBTQ+ club at Francis Lewis has reopened its club doors this school year for all students to join, advocate and learn about LGBTQ+ community.

“On a week to week basis, we will be learning the history of LGBTQ+,” GBTQ+ Club President Theodora Boumakis said. “We will be doing arts and crafts. That’s a very large thing to create events, to bring awareness to the school. And when June eventually comes, we will be trying to put something together to educate Francis Lewis and we usually support each other on a week to week basis.”

New York City public high schools were heavily impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic as all public school campuses were closed beginning in March, 2020.  Students were then given the option to attend remotely the following year and subsequently all clubs were attended via Zoom instead of  in-person.

“Over the past few years of Covid, you really struggled to build a club because of the long schedule and because of remote learning circumstances. So we really did lose an entire electoral board and really we lost, kind of the ability to have a strong and attended club.

“So a goal this year with club is to completely rebuild it and make sure that we’re making a lasting impact on Francis Lewis. And that there are younger students that are willing to step up and take over the club in the coming years,”LGBTQ+ club Adviser Ms. Genovesi said.

In an unsupported environment, research conveys LGBTQ+ students tend to have poor academic scores. Or even a higher probability to try to take their own life. So Boumakis states the purpose of her club is to provide a supportive place for the LGBTQ+ and raise awareness as well.

“The purpose is to bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ community at Francis Lewis to bring a comfortable environment for us to share our thoughts, share how we feel and be able to support each other,” Boumakis said.

Club attendee Emma Leung agrees about the acceptance of  club members.

“Because people are really nice there and I feel like I could be myself,” Leung said. “That people are really diverse here and they accept so many identities.”

Ms. Genovesi, advisor of the LGBTQ+ Club, explained how setting base rules is important, “especially the first day of club.”

“I try to set ground rules,” Ms. Genovesi said. “Especially the first day of club, I always kind of mention like ground rules for safety and ground rules for communicating with each other and respecting each other in that space. Whether it be pronouns or respecting someone’s stories that they may not want to be spread or told.”

“I think studying ground rules really helps for students to feel accepted and loved. And I think, also in a way of being welcoming and offering any help, that I may offer or a safe space as an educator and as a teacher at Lewis.”

Boumakis desires a spokesperson to educate her club members and Francis Lewis as well.

“Myself, personally, I really would like to have some sort of spokesperson to come in and to not only educate the club members, but to educate the school,” Boumakis said. “I would also really like some kind of event for Pride Month that brings awareness and can educate our school community with the history and current events of LGBTQ+.”

In the past, the club hosted a LGBT professional panel. Where club attendees learned about real professionals who are also in the LGBTQ+. So in the future Ms. Genoversi plans to do more events like a book club which ties into the LGBTQ+ community.

“We were just talking about that in our second meeting,” Ms. Genovesi said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully hosting things such as a guest speaker. Which I have done in the past with students as well as book club with a LGBTQ+ related book or events such as a movie night. And we know that we are planning something for Pride month at the end of the year.”

In creating and setting up these events, Ms. Genovesi hopes to help people see the LGBTQ+ in a better light and learn about it.

“I think it’s important to bring a community for those who need that type of support and environment,” Ms Genovesi said. “To be themselves and to communicate with those who are also, LGBTQ+ that identify, that share their pronouns, to educate each other, to learn. It’s just a safe space and it’s very welcoming for those who are involved.”

For the various LGBTQ+ groups research shows that they have a crucial role in maintaining and interpreting their history. Allowing them to find their history around the U.S and understand the prejudice they faced. Also, to establish support as well as communities. Meaning these field trips help people see the importance of these identities in the LGBTQ+ community and their history.

“A lot of individuals don’t know the depth and the reach of LGBTQ+ history and having these different trips, to visit different locations of where LGBTQ+ is originated from or where history has been built on,” Boumakis said. “It’ll help us know more and help us resonate with our own identities by understanding the history that has gone through to become today’s society.”

Resilience is also a key part of the LGBTQ+ community and with that a safe space is necessary for everyone, so they feel welcomed.

“It’s always important to have a space where people can gather and feel heard and feel seen,” Ms. Genovesi said. “LGBTQ+ clubs and gay straight alliances allow for students to receive emotional support, allow students to feel accepted and loved, and have help allow students. To also share their boys and perhaps even take action to make a space, a whole community school community, a better space for everyone.”