Olive CasarenoAs a queer student at a small Christian high school in Valley Stream, Long Island, Olive Casareno faced particular challenges. In a not so subtle way, her guidance counselor advised her to consider conversion therapy. Once she tried to write a research paper on “why God still loves gay people” but her teacher wouldn’t accept it. Since the school did not permit the LGBT student population to meet formally, Olive decided to form a club on her own. Periodically, as she recalls, the school’s queer students met at Sip This coffeehouse in Valley Stream “to feel free to be ourselves, to feel relaxed, at ease, and speak about issues that we deal with.”

Olive Casareno Photo Credit: Benjamin Gabet