Intro by Barbara Antlitz
Welcome to the first LGBTQ+ YA Corner! This new column will be an ongoing part of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth—look for it in each issue.
It is an honor and pleasure to introduce Ms. Gemma Lockhart. I saw Gemma speak at the Transgender Day of Remembrance that was held at Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Rehoboth Beach on November 20, 2019. I was impressed by her courage and willingness to wholeheartedly speak about her journey. Since then, Gemma has spoken at several Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meetings in Sussex and Kent County schools and serves on the GSA Leadership Planning Committee. Much gratitude for your presence.
Letters: Start by telling us about yourself!
Gemma: I was born in Dover and currently still reside there. I live with my amazing wife, Faith Lockhart—we just recently married in November—and our guinea pig, Lizzy. We also have a cat, though her grandparents babysit her a lot, so we don’t see her much. I have an Associate’s Degree in Human Services and a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science.
L: Explain to us what you do with local GSAs in our area schools?
G: After speaking at a service for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Barbara asked me if I would like to speak with students from local GSAs. I decided to take this opportunity to share my experience and provide what information and knowledge I have to the youth in the community. During the time of talking with the students, we discuss many different aspects of transitioning that the students have questions about. I am able to provide them real life knowledge of how transitioning could look.
L: What is a common question the students ask you?
G: I would say the most common question the students ask is what are some safe places for LGBTQ+ people in the community and how did my wife feel about my transition? Students also always ask if I faced any hardships during my transition and how I overcame them?
L: Do you have an LGBTQ Hero?
G: I have many people within the community I look up to and admire, though I would say the two that had made the most impact were Erin Armstrong and Laverne Cox. Erin is a YouTuber and an advocate who has documented her transition. She was the first transgender person I looked to who I could relate my experiences to. Laverne is a celebrity and a strong advocate in the community and one that I could particularly relate to due to her being a black transgender woman like myself.
L: What advice do you think is important for parents to hear?
G: I would say that it’s okay if you don’t completely understand what your child is going through. The main thing is that you show you are trying and show you support them. Even if someone had a hard time relating to or understanding my experience, seeing that they were trying showed me they loved me.
L: What is your favorite memory with the students?
G: My favorite moment in general when going to see the students is seeing how courageous they are for coming out and how brave they are to ask the questions they do. ▼
Barbara is CAMP Rehoboth’s Youth Coordinator, working with GSAs in middle and high schools in Sussex and Kent Counties, and with other groups supporting LGBTQ+ youth.