Rocky Harbour teen says LGBTQ camp experience was life-changing
Rocky Harbour teen has great time at Camp Ohana.
Coming out, as coming out always is, was scary, says Sarah Keough.
But having support and acceptance has been integral to the Rocky Harbour teen.
A couple of years ago attending a camp for LGBTQ youth is something that would have been outside her comfort zone.
Keough always knew she was gay, but it wasn’t until just a few months ago in April that she came out.
“So, it’s a little bit new for me for everyone to know,” she said.
Keough is one of 23 young people who attended Camp Ohana, a camp for LGBTQ youth at Killdevil Camp in Gros Morne from July 30-Aug. 2.
She feels she left the camp a different person.
“It opened my eyes to so many different people and just other peoples’ struggles,” she said. “I think that everyone left camp a little bit different than when they first got there.”
At 18, Keough said she’s always learning and she’ll use the experience as she pursues a career as a guidance counsellor.
Keough graduated from Gros Morne Academy in June and will head off to university in St. John’s next month to study psychology.
From the general community to her school community — where she was chairperson of the Gender Sexuality Alliance — to friends and family, Keough said everyone was supportive — especially her mom, Tammy Keough.
“I call her my one-woman pride parade. Her phone background is a photo of a rainbow and she got rainbow gems on her nails for my graduation, Keough said. “She goes all out.”
Having the support all around her was good as she knows not everyone is as lucky.
She said being gay is one part of her, but definitely not the whole story.
“It is a big important part; it is something that I’m proud of.”
She said the camp experience will impact the way she sees the world and her future career goals.
“It gives me more insight into things that I wouldn’t normally know about,” she said.
“It’s good to have all of that knowledge and to know other peoples’ stories, because I know that everybody had different ones.”
It’s something she said will help her as a guidance counsellor.
“To be able to help kids like me, because I’ve had help that way. Just to be someone for them to look to.”
For those still struggling to come out, she offers these words of encouragement: “If you can’t be fully out yet, just do whatever you can and know that it will get better.”
It may sound cliché, but she said it really does.
Sarah Keough of Rocky Harbour says she Camp Ohana opened her eyes to different people and the struggles of others.