Lili McCormack, a 2016 graduate from Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, leaves her mark in New Orleans by being a leader for those in the Gender Sexuality Alliance.
McCormack was president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance her junior year, and realized that being a leader means putting others' voices before your own.
“It's come to my understanding that you cannot ask of change from the rest of the world if you cannot ask of it from your backyard,” she says.
Even though McCormack is out in her community being an activist, she knows that she cannot always change the minds of everyone, but can create a dialogue about topics such as gender, sexual orientation and race. Starting these conversations encourages others to evaluate how their actions affect others.
“It makes you consider how privileged you are, how much your voice is a luxury,” she says. “So many cannot speak for fear of harassment, shame, or abuse – simply for being themselves.”
Each year, Ben Franklin participates in the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Day of Silence. Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning+ community and their supporters take a vow of silence to reflect on the voices that are not heard due to oppression and intolerance.
“Hearing the hallways grow a little quieter and seeing people react when I give them my information card to read are some of the most grounding experiences I’ve ever had,” says McCormack.
Gregory Swanson, one of Ben Franklin’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance teach sponsors inspired McCormack to become an activist. During her first meeting with the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, she heard Swanson speak so confidently about the club and its cause.
“No other adult I’d known in my life had done that so openly,” she says. “Swanson helped catalyze what it meant to be an ally.”
McCormack is attending Columbia College in Chicago this fall and wants to create new musical theatre content exploring the activism and social issues of the 20th and 21st century and the music that reflects it.