Location of Interaction: East Saint Louis, IL
Without a doubt, my love Ms. Crystal is one of my favorite people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She and her sister, Francine, are the cornerstone of the school that I worked at last year, and she was a cornerstone in my life while I was in the Midwest, too. One of my favorite things about Crystal was that she opened up right away, and at the same time, was looking to get to know me. She didn’t delay in starting a friendship with me and; therefore, we became very close, very quickly and created a strong friendship. I think we had a special closeness bloom throughout our year of working together.
For many months, she and I took on the twenty or so Kindergarteners and 1st and 2nd graders who stayed after school for the Extended Day Program. While I was certainly no more than just her backup in this confusing new environment, she always seemed appreciative to have a little help. Throughout the year, I learned more and more about Crystal and continued to gain respect for her. She is a strong, passionate woman with a world of life experience on her shoulders. I’m certain that she can do just about anything that she sets her mind to.
Her caring nature is perfect for her job, her wit and her charm keep her grounded, and her smarts and her demeanor make her the perfect role model for the little girls and boys who get to experience her each day. How I treasured the days that I got to experience her on a daily basis. Crystal is supportive, loving, kind—she’s a little drop of God, right in the middle of the heartland. There is something truly special, truly moving about Crystal that doesn’t fade away after you leave her company. That’s how I know she will remain someone very important to me in the years to come. We’ll be buddies for a long time. In her, I know I have a true friend.
A real gem, she is.
Location of Interaction: Niagara Falls, NY
How many LGBTIQA-ers does it take to start a Gay/Straight Alliance at Niagara University? Without Teresa, that question would be irrelevant. She and I equaled each other in determination and passion when it came to ending inequality at our “behind the times” university that we were attending. Teresa was my constant reminder that I was spending my college days in a place that desperately needed our assistance “making a difference.”
Over winter break of 2008, we facebook chatted the first twinkles of the idea to work together to get this diabolical group started. Ever since that day, nothing has been the same in my life. Teresa and I worked well together, sharing the weight and the pressure of making our dream a reality. Looking back, there isn’t anyone else I would have wanted to try and create the group with. In fact, I don’t think there was anyone else I could have started the group with. I think we were the only combination of people, at the time, who had the drive and the general support of the students and faculty to make the magic happen.
Over the course of our (very stressful, yet very eventful) time together, I got to know Teresa very well. She is one of the most driven people I’ve ever met. But on top of that, she’s also brilliant, kind—in all of the right ways, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. The two of us learned together over the course of the year how to not be pushovers, how to be kind yet forceful. We also learned how to keep each other in check. When one of us was frustrated, the other would try to balance out the frustrations with thoughts of hope and, ultimately, love. College came and went as it does for everyone, but the time I spent with my heart tied up in that GSA with Teresa altered the course of my life. It taught me about what was really important for me. It also taught me what I was capable of. Nothing I wanted to do with my life was the same once the idea of starting the GSA came to fruition.
And so, I thank you, Teresa, for being there, for being a part of it, for being the perfect co-pilot on such a stressful, dazzling ride.