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Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez says being openly bisexual powers her fight against guns

Josh Jackman March 25, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Tears roll down the face of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez as she observes 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence while addressing the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Washington for the anti-gun violence rally organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead. More than 800 related events are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez, the bisexual president of Stoneman Douglas High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance, has spoken out about the way her sexuality fuels her activism.

Together with fellow students like David Hogg and Cameron Kasky, the 18-year-old has prompted a tidal wave of public sentiment in favour of better gun regulation following the shooting in Florida.

She has been at the forefront of the #NeverAgain movement since her impassioned speech at a rally last month in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when she emotively repeated the phrase “We call BS” about NRA-funded politicians, gun advocates and those who don’t believe the Parkland teenagers know enough to speak up.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez is hugged by a friend following her speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 17, 2018. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at the high school leaving 17 people dead and 15 injured on February 14. / AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Yesterday, at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC, she made an emotional speech which left her and many of the hundreds of thousands of protesters in tears.

And speaking to Yahoo, she said that being open with her bisexuality meant she was able to speak out in this powerful way as one of the leaders of the Never Again MSD movement.

“They’re definitely linked for me personally,” she said. “If I wasn’t so open about who I was I never would’ve been able to do this.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24:  Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, including Emma Gonzalez (C), stand together on stage with other young victims of gun violence at the conclusion of the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Washington for the anti-gun violence rally organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead. More than 800 related events are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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“In ninth grade,” she recalled, “I was in a creative writing class where I could actually really effectively communicate what I was feeling, and it especially helped me come to terms with who I was.

“That definitely was when I really understood who I am, and when I came to terms with it, and when I told most people.”

This experience, she explained, “helped me understand that everybody, no matter who they are and what they look like, is going through a lot of different things.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 24:  A woman holds a sign depicting Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, United States. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
She has become an icon (Getty)

Gonzalez’s position as head of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance has also been a crucial part of making her the activist she is today, she said.

“It’s really helped me get used to shifting plans very quickly, planning in advance, and also being flexible… understanding that maybe you organise a club meeting with this one person in mind and they just don’t come because they aren’t coming to school, and you can’t get upset,” she said.

“Because most of the kids in GSA either have depression or they’re dealing with a lot of stuff at home, and it’s like, I can understand that.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez speaks during the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018.  Galvanized by the February 2018 gun massacre at the Florida high school, hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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“And there are so many people in the country who are dealing with that, in relation to gun violence. You have no idea.

“You don’t know how many people you talk to on a daily basis that have actually been shot before, or have lost someone through gun violence.

“With GSA it’s the same. Everything’s incredibly far-reaching and widespread,” added the teenager.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24:  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez speaks during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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During her speech at yesterday’s rally, Gonzalez showed exactly how inspiring she could be.

“Six minutes and about 20 seconds,” she told the crowd. “In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured and everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered.

“Everyone who was there understands. Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands. For us, long, tearful, chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing.

Related: Republican aborts election bid after calling teen shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez a ‘skinhead lesbian’

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Emma Gonzalez hugs her father Jose Gonzalez as they join other people after a school shooting that killed 17 to protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse on February 17, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Earlier this week former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a AR-15 rifle at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killing 17 people. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Emma Gonzalez hugs her father (Getty)

“No one understood the extent of what had happened.”

Gonzalez listed off the names of those who died in the mass shooting last month with actions – like joking, smiling and playing basketball – that the young victims “would never” do again.

The teenage activist, whose impact has seen her gain more fans than the National Rifle Association, then fell silent for minutes on end.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 24:  A sign featuring Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez is seen at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles rally on March 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence.  (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
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Apart from sporadic shouting and chanting, the immense number of protesters did the same, staying quiet.

When she broke the silence, Gonzalez told the crowd: “Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting, and will soon abandon his rifle”.

She ended the speech with the message: “Fight for your lives, before it’s someone else’s job.”

Watch Gonzalez’s incredible speech here:

More: bisexual, Emma Gonzalez, march for our lives, parkland, shooting, US, US

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