With Pride Month quickly approaching, we want to highlight the vastly different experiences of our community. We’re interested in hearing your experience being LGBTQ+ in FIRST Robotics. For the next month, the stories we tell will be yours, so send us anecdotes, testimonials, good experiences and negative ones.
If you’re interested, fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/tlFJspIuC3sAwkjq2.
Thank you for your submissions. We’re looking forward to reading your stories.
Don’t let people tell you that you can’t succeed at something. Seriously. People will continue to try and shut you down, but don’t listen to them. If I had listened to all the naysayers- all the people telling me I would not succeed- I wouldn’t be part of the FIRST community today. Joining robotics was one of the most worthwhile decisions of my life, and had I given in to what others were telling me- I would not have been the same.
I’ve been part of 5683 for two years now. These past two years have taught me so much more than just STEM skills. I have learned more about life through FRC than I have through my actual classes. This program is a good character builder, that’s for sure. However, the decision to actually join a team was no easy task for me. By the time I got to freshman year, I was already so used to belittling myself and telling myself “you can’t possibly do it,” that I almost didn’t join. Luckily I have a good friend who convinced me otherwise. But why was I so adamant about not being able to do FRC in the first place? What makes robotics so intimidating? Well, when people tell you over and over again that you shouldn’t do something, or silently judge you for wanting to do something- you start to not believe you can actually do it.
I started my interest in computer science around 5th grade. One of my favorite artists at the time was also attending school for programming, and posted their experiences on their blog. Of course I was young, so I had the childish enthusiasm of wanting to be just like one of my idols. I would read up about computers and programming on and off, but as soon as I started to research what was required of a programming career- I realized it required intensive math. I wasn’t the best math student when I was younger, and my teachers had made that clear to me. It makes me wonder how many students have been turned away from robotics/programming for similar reasons. Also, it didn’t help that whenever I actually showed interest in computer science around my peers they’d make the assumption I was interested in it only because my twin brother is. Now I admit that I’m a bit more sensitive to criticism than most. In middle school especially, I struggled a lot with not thinking I was “good enough” for anything. So the constant of people telling me I shouldn’t be a part of robotics/computer science was only worsened by my own psyche.
As I look back, I realize now that there are always going to be people trying to tell you what you can and can’t do. I also realize I would be in a world of regret if I didn’t take the plunge and join FRC. You don’t have to be a genius to build a robot, more often than not people are willing to teach you. I’m so grateful that my friends convinced me to join. FRC gives me something to look forward to, and through all my struggles- I think it’s taught me to be a better person as well. I wish I had known when I was younger that you don’t have to be a genius. I’ve seen so many people in situations like mine, where they truly believe they can’t do it. There is such a stereotype around robotics, and I think it’s about time for it to be broken. You can do anything you put your mind to, regardless of what people say. So dare to dream and do what you like, because if you don’t- you’ll only end up with regrets.
-Kira K. 5683
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.