Today, I’m a super proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, but the journey to get here wasn’t easy. I was outed at school by someone I’d trusted as a friend before I was ready to tell my own story. It was a really vulnerable time for me, and I felt ashamed to be myself even in the fairly progressive area where I live. I spent a lot of time with these feelings, thinking really deeply about why I had so much fear about coming out. I felt different and marginalized, whereas before, I’d never felt anything but “normal.” It was a big jolt, and it didn’t feel good.
But it’s no wonder that in a world where almost all books and movies center around straight characters—either featuring no LGBTQ+ characters at all or sometimes shoving them to the edges as stereotyped sidekicks—that being queer could make someone feel like they don’t deserve the spotlight. Lack of representation can make people feel invisible, or like they should be. I’ve been there, and it’s a real problem with serious consequences.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is all about stepping up and bravely filling a need in your community—and my community desperately needed better representation. So even though storytelling was outside my comfort zone (I’m a science and tech girl to my core!), I had to put myself out there and do what I could to make a difference. That meant founding and becoming the editor of Glitterary, a digital literary magazine that’s both for and by LGBTQ+ youth.
The stories collected and featured in Glitterary Magazine span all genres—science fiction, adventure, romance, drama, comedy—because there’s nothing we can’t do and no place that we don’t belong. Beyond that, I make sure the queer people in our stories don’t just look or act one specific way. Just like there are five-plus letters in LGBTQ+, there are so many different ways that members of our community look, express themselves, and live their lives. Showing the diversity among us will not only help more people feel seen, but could help break down harmful stereotypes.
I never thought this work would lead me to be chosen as a National Gold Award Girl Scout—I just did it because it needed to be done. To me, the biggest reward is knowing that after just a few months of being up and running, the magazine already has a readership of people from more than 40 countries, including some where being LGBTQ+ is illegal.
To know that something I did is providing comfort and inspiration to queer youth all over the globe—and that some of those people I’m reaching have such a vital need for reassurance—is humbling to me and a reminder that when we stand up and do the hard thing, amazing change can happen.
— Phoebe, a 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout
A Tennessee Girl Scout turns an art exhibition into a recurring community event.