Sitting on her cream colored bedspread, senior Kate Danciger pulled her legs to her chest and prepared to walk down her stairs and tell her mom she was a lesbian. She wasn’t nervous. She didn’t worry about what she would say. She just wanted to let her know.
As she walked through the living room, she glanced at a picture on the wall. One of her favorite memories: her whole family on a hike.
“Looking back on that picture I just remember feeling so comfortable with my family that day,” Danciger said. “Thinking about that, I know as long as I have my family I can do anything. No matter what happens they’re always going to be there for me.”
She could walk into the living room and tell her mom anything. Fearlessly.
Danciger had always been told that it didn’t matter who people loved. It was her job to accept them no matter what. Her mom, Molly Mitchell Danciger, had always wanted her to know that everyone was deserving of love and respect. And when Danciger came out, Mitchell Danciger refused to allow her daughter to feel any hate for being herself.
“Come at me,” Mitchell Danciger said. “If you have a problem that’s your problem. It’s not anyone else’s problem, it’s yours.”
Danciger’s nights with her mom eating Longhorn Steakhouse takeout and watching Property Brothers helped her to feel comfortable talking to her. Their close relationship made it possible for an understanding and pleasant conversation about Danciger’s sexuality. Mitchell Danciger never needed to outwardly tell Danciger that she was accepted. She had always made it known that she was loved by bonding with her through nights on the couch with popcorn as Jonathan and Drew laid out blue prints for their latest renovation.
Danciger had told her mom, but still had to let her best friend, senior Laura Addams, know. Before she came out to her, she remembered all of the moments when Adams had stuck up for her. She knew that her friends would only want her to feel comfortable coming out and had no fear in sharing her truth with them.
“Once I got close with her, having a best friend and someone I’m really close with gave me a lot of confidence,” Danciger said. “I attribute a lot of my ability to be myself to Laura.”
Danciger’s first encounter with accepting sexuality happened the day her mother and sister called her out of school, pulling her away from the construction of Box City in her third grade art class. They sped down Mission Road to join SM East’s counter-protest against Westboro Baptist Church.
Danciger’s family drove around the block playing Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ followed by The Beatles’ ‘All You Need is Love’.
Across the street from Westboro was the entire student body of East, hugging, holding signs and showing support for their LGBT peers. At only 8-years-old, Danciger saw the love and support of East’s community that she would one day join.
And when Westboro returned her senior year, Danciger saw the support of students who were now her classmates once again. She smiled at the ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ signs on the main stairs and high-fived peers holding ‘You are Loved’ posters on the third floor.
“I liked the way East reacted to them coming this year because we didn’t give them attention, and that’s what they want,” Danciger said. “East wasn’t giving them any satisfaction and I think that was important.”
The sight of Westboro’s derogatory signs and T-shirts was all too familiar to her, but so was the support she found in other students and faculty.
In all aspects of her life, Danciger had never felt she needed to hide who she was. She had always found her family, friends and peers to be extremely accepting and open – no matter who she loved.
“When Westboro Baptist Church came again this year it was special for me to see after all of these years, the student body still standing up,” Danciger said. “Basically these kids saying, ‘I don’t know you, but you can love whoever you want and it doesn't matter, I will still care about you’.”
Danciger’s ability to see the acceptance in the world was ultimately what allowed her be honest with herself without trepidations of what others would say. The love and support from the East community and Danciger’s loved ones allowed her a smooth journey of self-discovery.
“I was never ashamed to say ‘this is who I am’ at East.”