Acceptance Is: Finding A Community

#everyoneissomeone text over a photo of Trisha Perry with her award

Meet Trisha Perry

Trisha Perry has a long history of involvement in community service. From a young age, she worked with determination to make the lives of others better. Whether it was raising money for cancer research, or volunteering as a mentor to young kids, Trisha spent her time building up the people around her. She’s always understood the value in providing others with the space to be themselves and feel heard, feel accepted, and find a true sense of belonging. But even at a time when Trisha served as a safe haven to so many, she was on a desperate search to provide herself with the same.

It’s been nearly three decades since Trisha Perry made history. In 1994, she became the first female recipient of the Heisman High School Scholarship. Trisha says she didn’t win the award because she’s a great athlete, she says it was her involvement with the community that made her stand out among the 10,000 plus students-athletes from across the country who were nominated for the award that year.


Even as a star athlete, a top student, and a mentor, Trisha was in a private battle. A battle she refers to as a downward shame spiral. “Living in middle America in the 90s, no one was discussing mental health. My struggle with being gay really escalated and I always felt so misunderstood, and that something was wrong with me,” Trisha recalls.


Trisha says she overcame her internal struggles and won her battle for self-acceptance over time, even finding some of that acceptance through her experiences as a recipient of the Heisman award. Over the years, she found a community among fellow Heisman winners. She took trips to New York City where she’d spend days hanging out with other winners and found a sense of belonging.


“I was drawn to them because they accepted me for me. And when we would talk about things, there was no shame…it was just open-mindedness. That acceptance of myself, it really started with the Heisman and having peers around me that had similar stories.”


“there was no shame…it was just open-mindedness. That acceptance of myself, it really started with the Heisman and having peers around me that had similar stories”

During these annual meetings in the Big Apple with fellow Heisman winners, Trisha’s mind and beliefs about herself broadened. She says they all certainly had differences of opinions, but everyone still had equity at the table. Trisha believes the camaraderie and the community built through her Heisman family not only changed her life, but saved it.


For life-saving help via phone or text in a crisis, visit the Crisis Text Line or Text “HOME” To 741741 for free, 24/7 Crisis Counseling.

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