United States 2013/14 | School program, PPP
I'm Eva, 17, and spent 2013-2014 in the US on the PPP scholarship (just got home 6 weeks ago).
During my final preparatory weekends, I began to wonder if I should disclose my homosexuality to someone at AFS. This could possibly lead to conflicts with the host family etc. and I didn't want to be held up to me like "Would you have said something earlier!" So I decided to tell AFS in Hamburg. At first they didn't even know why I saw it as a "problem" at all. After all, we live in the 21st century - and after all, the USA is not Russia! I explained that my German parents themselves are not the most open people in the world when it comes to the topic and that I would like to avoid another “host family situation” like this. They understood, immediately phoned the US to come up with a "battle plan" and called back. “Would you mind if we put it in your homestay file at the top of the 'Important info' for the family and coordinators to see first? That way we know for sure that those involved don't have a problem with it." 10 minutes later another call came: "Or could you also imagine living in a same-sex family? Maybe that will also help your German family to take a more relaxed view of the whole thing for the future??“ I agreed to the suggestion without batting an eyelid!
In the end, my family was a “traditional” one, which was totally open to the topic and already knew about it when I arrived; but didn't talk to me about it until I brought it up. I lived in Oregon, just off the coast, in a mixed Democrat/Republican small farming town. Everything was great at school! Teachers and student body had no LGBT aversions. (Although I probably don't conform to the typical stereotype on the outside either.) I was super integrated straight away and actually had a lot of friends who were gay and lesbian. And in my AFS district, when I changed host families (lifestyle differences were too blatantly different!), I was even told that I was actually taken in by two women with three daughters, a very active and sporty family, but they were short moved to Seattle prior to my arrival and my first host family therefore agreed to take me in.
AFS is really great when it comes to queer swapping! I could not have imagined a more open and helpful organization.