Literary magazine provides a “safe space” for LGBT community

With an expanding ability to express themselves, a new literary magazine, “Safe Spaces” was introduced to allow LGBT students an outlet to showcase their perspectives in a safe environment.

Lucia Lemieux, English teacher and GSA adviser received a grant in honor of Guy DeRosa, one of the first LGBT educators, with the goal of starting a literary magazine specifically dedicated to LGBT students from all CVUSD high schools.

Lemieux aims to publish an issue by the end of the school year. “I’ve been putting the word out and asking all the GSAs for submissions, and we have some but we need a few more,” Lemieux said. “It always takes awhile to get things going.”

Lemieux has received submissions from students from NPHS, TOHS and WHS. These submissions include both written and art pieces; however, she is specifically looking to receive more written pieces. There is currently no deadline for submissions.

“Safe Spaces” accepts submissions from members of the LGBT community as well as allies until Feb. 9. The submissions can be anything the author would like– poetry, short fictional stories, flash fiction– and the topic of writing is open for the author to choose. “Some of the submissions have been about LGBT issues and some are just about adolescence in general,” Lemieux said. To submit to the magazine, students should share their articles from their school Google Drive to [email protected].

Natalie Jiminez, sophomore, is one of the students who has submitted her written work to “Safe Spaces.” After hearing about the magazine in GSA last year, she decided to submit her short story.

Jiminez’s interest was sparked when Lemieux mentioned they could submit short stories. “I already like to write stories as a hobby of mine,” Jiminez said. Her story is about a girl who is a member of the LGBT community and her desire to live her truth, regardless of her previous battles with her identity. “In the story she soon finds a place where she can feel comfortable and be free to express herself anyway she wants despite having prior doubts about ever finding such a place,” Jiminez said.

Juliet Balkain, senior at Westlake High School, also submitted to “Safe Spaces.” After hearing about the magazine from her GSA adviser, Balkain felt compelled to submit to the magazine. “I had recently come out to my friends and accidentally to my mom, and I just felt like I had to get my emotions out,” Balkain said.

The inspiration for Balkain’s explanatory poem, which she formatted to emulate changing gears in a car, is her mother’s reaction to Balkain when she unintentionally came out. “She was reviewing my CSU application and called me over when she saw I had put ‘bisexual’ under the sexual orientation box,” Balkain revealed. “She wasn’t insulting. She didn’t have a loud reaction, but she was uncomfortable and in disbelief.”

Jiminez stress the importance of being involved. “It’s important to participate and do some different things once and a while.” Jiminez said. “I wanted to have a story that would let people know that GSA is truly a safe space.”