Life chang­ing

Rocky Har­bour teen says LGBTQ camp ex­pe­ri­ence was life-chang­ing

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY DIANE CROCKER [email protected]­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_DianeCrock­er

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Sarah Keough of Rocky Har­bour says she Camp Ohana opened her eyes to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and the strug­gles of oth­ers.

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