Manny Capozzi

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Manny is part of Mister E. Machine, an Indie band with a rainbow twist, that performed at Night of Noise 2015. Listen to Manny speak about how these events impact the youth that the Alliance serves.

I was bullied a lot in middle school for being gay and overweight. I remember what a difficult time of my life that was and how hopeless things felt primarily because I felt I didn’t have a community to support and stand by me. I was fortunate to have an older sister that helped me through those tough times with bullying and she showed me that I was not alone and that I could not only survive but thrive.

When I got to high school, I was the only openly gay student. Using my sister’s strength and courage as an example, I vowed never to let fear or intimidation rule my life again and was fortunate to find a community of other gay youth through organizations like Pride Youth. I started the first gay-straight alliance (GSA) at my high school and by my senior year, seven people came out of the closet and we had two straight people in the group as well.

 I decided to write a song about my sister and to make a music video in order to share my experience with others in the hopes that allies like her would feel empowered to help stop bullying. During that process I met Lawrence Carter from The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. I will never forget the day I sat in Lawrence’s office and he showed me the map of all the GSA organizations around Illinois which the Alliance supports and helps facilitate. I was amazed to find that some of these GSAs were 50-80 people strong and were widely supported by the student bodies in their communities. I was humbled to think how much the GSA movement had grown and how much youth are really the ones at the forefront of promoting acceptance and changing public opinion.

When meeting with the GSA youth committee, the group vowed to make the 2015 Night of Noise Rally the most meaningful and moving to date. My band Mister E. Machine agreed to play at the event and to feature the release of our music video ‘Rosa Marie’ a tribute to my sister who had been so important in my own personal journey as a LGBTQ youth. I was most impressed at the resourcefulness and intelligence of the students and their ability to come up with engaging and innovative ways to promote and run the event.

The day of the event was really quite moving. GSA students from the around Chicago and the surrounding areas congregated at the Thompson Center Plaza to honor the Day of Silence and make their voices heard. I was so impressed by the passion and intelligence the student speakers displayed and was touched by the supportive crowd.

I look forward to working with the Alliance in the future. The Alliance needs your support to continue advocating for safe schools for LGBTQ across Illinois! Please donate generously to this campaign.