Viper pride

LGBT+ club talks pride


Photo submitted by VHS Yearbook

The LgbtVipers+ club yearbook photo from the 2019-2020 school year.

Arabella Villarroel, Staff Reporter

Lgbt Vipers+ is a GSA-like club dedicated to organizing the visibility of and creating a safe and positive space for LGBTQIA+ individuals at Vandegrift.

“It’s been a place to go and forget about everything that’s stressing me out and everything that’s worrying me,” sophomore Corinna Crawford said. “Just being able to go and be with friends and be in a space where I am safe and loved and accepted is just amazing.”

The club is a place where members of the LGBTQIA+ community at Vandegrift can meet, and come together, every other week to celebrate their history and each other. They play games like kahoot, mafia, or just hang out and chat about what’s going on in their lives.

“The club is helping me help other kids figure out their sexuality which is really fulfilling,” senior Natalie Andrew said. “I get to support younger students, and I’m getting to educate them on their history. I’m getting to help them figure themselves out and give them resources if stuff isn’t going super well for them.”

President, and senior Emi Lee, founded the club in her junior year, and has been president for two years. Andrew–vice president of the club–has been a member for two years. All of the officers are seniors and have been in the club for two years, since it was founded. The club is fully student operated, and history teacher Liesl Patteson, is the club’s sponsor.

“I wanted a community like an LGBTQ plus community at Vandegrift, because of course they’re LGBT students, and we know each other, but we’re not a community,” Lee said. “I wanted us to be able to support each other, because we all have that common experience of going to Vandergrift, living in the same places, and being LGBTQIA plus in an area that’s relatively conservative and religious.”

In the club, members every week learn more about LGBTQIA+ history, which isn’t taught in school. They learn about people, events, and the history of non-straight activists and more.

“I didn’t know anything about history until I came in and started learning about my community,” Andrew said. “And seeing what is going on today, and about my rights and things like that.” 

Some students have been unsure of joining, but through their friends or just branching out, they have found the courage to join the club. And once they have, the club has been very influential in helping its members learn more about their own sexuality and gender, as well as learn more about the community overall.

“I was very apprehensive to go to the club at first, but my schedule ended up changing over from the first semester to the second semester, and I was like okay, I’m feeling it now. I’ll do it,” Crawford said. “And I did, and I have never regretted it. I’ve never regretted going, it’s amazing.”

Many students have been able to find their sexualities and identities through the club. For example, Crawford earned she was asexual and gay– which she already knew–but through the club was able to learn the term asexual and realize she identifies with it.

“Everybody needs to be able to go somewhere where they can be themselves, and be safe and feel safe with the people that they’re around because not everybody has that, this club is that space for me,” Crawford said. “It’s a place where I can go and just be myself, and be fine.”