Star Trek: Discovery star Wilson Cruz says that, like many queer teens, high school was a difficult time for him.
“I don’t even know what it was like not to be bullied,” he told Variety. “I was called fag every day. It got to the point where I didn’t even hear it anymore.”
“I went to high school in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s before there were gay-straight alliances,” he continued, saying that instead, he relied on his best friends to help him get through.
“The only way I got through school was with my best friends — the other four gays kids I knew at school. I know because I had them in my life that I had a sounding board and that there was someone who could reflect back my own experience and make me feel like I was not not normal. They saved my life. We saved each other’s lives.”
It’s because of those memories that Cruz got involved with GLSEN, an organization that works to make schools safer for LGBTQ+ students and teachers. Now, he’s been named chair of GLSEN’s board, with award-winning journalist Imara Jones joining as the vice chair.
“Every student should have the ability to have the best experience in school where they can learn the most and feel the most supported,” Cruz said. “They shouldn’t have to feel like they have to get out of there as soon as they can and by the skin of their teeth. If you believe that our schools are the place that our students need to feel the safest, this is the organization you need to be supporting.”
“Wilson Cruz and Imara Jones are incredible leaders and activists who have done amazing, impactful work to transform GLSEN over the last few years,” GLSEN executive director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers said in a statement. “We’re honored to have both of them in this fight with us as GLSEN moves forward into a new chapter, and we’re proud to have a leadership team that reflects the values, power, and beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. Together, we’re going to rise up for LGBTQ+ youth across the country and fight back against those who seek to erase them.”