"For me, it's about more than a crown. It's about saying to people, 'Come out and be who you want to be,' " Vera said. A crowded, urban high school scene paused to listen. "You have to say, 'I am who I am, and I'm proud of who I am. My spirit will never be down on the floor.' "Vera, a Latina cheerleader and honors student who wants to be a fashion designer, is a very popular high school student:
At football games when he's on the cheerleading squad, the crowd regularly chants, "Johnny, Johnny, Johnny."Now tell me, how's that stereotype of the socially conservative Latino/a community doing?
"No other student is getting their name chanted," said Lupe Sosa, a career counselor at Roosevelt.
What happened to the age-old story of someone different not fitting in during high school? Sosa said Vera's strength of character compels people to accept him.
"This person is amazing. He lights up everybody around him," Sosa said. "He always has a genuine compliment for everyone. Especially the shy kids. But he never sugarcoats anything. Johnny carries himself with a lot of dignity. And Johnny is so darn assertive. No one messes with Johnny."
The article, while great and positive and everything, did use he/him to refer to Vera, even when it included a quotation from her saying that she prefers the feminine pronouns. It's like this one kid I knew in college who wrote a story for the school newspaper that quoted my roommate and the end of the quotation said, "Don't quote me on this." Ugh.