Gay College Experiences: Evan Sterrett
September 23, 2011 § 13 Comments
This is one part of a series recounting the first college experiences and the lessons learned of Freshman at Georgetown University.
Click here to read the original post.
Hey guys, I’m Evan Sterrett. I, too, am from Pennsylvania. As you would expect, I hail from a small, rural, conservative environment. I am gay (of course) and I’ve been out (mostly) for only around a year. In this regard, I seem to be a “late bloomer,” for it took me some time to accept my sexuality in an atmosphere completely void of positive gay examples. After confiding in a few trusted friends, I knew that I must come out to my parents before I left for Georgetown, otherwise I would continue living an unhappy, secretive double-life.
In the summer before my departure, I attempted to gather the courage to tell them numerous times, but I always ended up putting it off. Of course, it’s not like they didn’t know already… I mean come on, I used to dress up in high-heels, I never had a girlfriend, I was heavily involved with show choir (yay sequins!), and I had recently applied a Human Rights campaign sticker to my car’s bumper. But despite the obviousness, an explicit confirmation of my homosexuality was necessary.
Thankfully, my mom eventually facilitated the dreaded coming out process. It began with, “Evan, we need to have a sex talk.” Heh… sure, mom. The conversation progressed from HPV vaccinations to “I also want to talk about your sexuality, of which I’m unsure.” And there it was- the opportunity, more inviting than ever before. Finally I was able to say, “Yeah, I’m gay.” An instant rush of relief, freedom, happiness, and ease filled my body. Needless to say, there were hugs and tears to close the “confession.”
I am so fortunate to have such accepting and loving parents. The fact that I like boys changed nothing. Instead, it brought us closer and eliminated fighting caused by pent- up angers. An overwhelming sense of loving unity developed. I soon learned that not everyone experiences such parental acceptance, and for that I feel extremely saddened.
So with all that, seemingly out of nowhere, the time for my college departure arrived. Georgetown was no longer that distant, imagined, built-up, chimerical education/experience of which I constantly dreamed. It was now a reality.
I’ll be completely honest about my expectations/fears for Georgetown and college life, and I hope to offer some helpful advice pertaining to both:
1. At Georgetown, I expected widespread acceptance of me and my sexuality.
So far, I have received such. I have yet to experience discrimination or bullying triggered by my queerness. It’s difficult to describe how liberated I felt to be surrounded by peers/mentors who could care less about whether I’m gay or not. Complete honesty and openness finally became possible for me.
Advice: Seriously consider the level of acceptance your future school will
offer before applying. This should be a major factor in your college decision
process. If you’re still closeted, you certainly don’t have to tell your parents that
acceptance is a required component for your future college; instead, subtly
steer them away from the anti-gay options (that’s what I did).
2. I expected to be hit on. Now please don’t think I’m conceited in writing that. I simply mean that, with the wealth of gay students at Georgetown compared to the dearth of the gays in Pennsylvania, I anticipated an increase in flirting and such. Well… that wasn’t exactly the case. I quickly learned the complexities of the gay community- the nonverbals, the typical behaviors, etc. Obviously, just because two people are gay, it doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in each other. I faced rejection on numerous occasions, which (while painful) kept my self-confidence in check.
Advice: Take your time. Do not expect a huge change in your romantic world
immediately. Solidify your wants- are you looking for a relationship (which is
difficult in the midst of homework, jobs, and other commitments), do you want a
hook-up (which can lead to painful feelings of attachment), or do you want to be
happily single and independent (never forget this option!). Don’t settle for less
than you deserve. With time and practice, your special someone will sweep you
off your feet (preferably a knight in shining armor).
3. I feared loneliness. With such a large student body, I was afraid I’d wash into the sea of conformity.
Advice: Never fear, your hall-mates/camp-buddies are here. Your school’s new
student orientation will make sure that you have several close (or as close as
new friends can be) within the first few weeks. For example, I married my best
friend, Taylor Griffin, after being on campus for about two weeks- we’re now
inseparable. Oh and get involved; that way, you’ll easily meet people who share
similar interests. Overfill your plate with activities, for you can always scrap the
involvements for which you just don’t have time.
4. I feared homesickness… where’s my mommy?
Advice: We all experience a rough patch of mommy-missing, but it’s both
inevitable and necessary. Keep in close contact (Skype helps) while still
embracing your independence and freedom on campus. You’ll see your family
(and eat that homemade food you’ve been craving) soon enough!
And here’s a few additional, random tidbits:
If you’ll be attending a school in the city, you’ll have easy access to local gay/lesbian clubs. Out of curiosity, you’ll most likely want to go eventually. Go with friends. I repeat, go with friends. Preferably friends that will not ditch you on the dance floor. It’s a chaotic, sweaty, loud mess at the clubs and you will want people to “have your back.”
The gay roommate question:
Inevitably, one of the biggest college questions for prospective LGBTQ students
is: should I have a gay roommate? At least for me it was. But for some reason, this topic is rarely addressed in college advise books. That being said, here’s my stance.
I chose a gay roommate. Why? I wanted to feel understood, to hang my Lady Gaga poster, to have someone with whom I could talk about boys, to attend Pride events with etc… I surely didn’t want to feel as if I needed to hide my future boyfriend or conceal my true identity in any way. With a gay roommate, I didn’t have to worry about any of those issues (the only worry is “dormcest,” could make things awkward but is easily avoidable). In fact, most of the gays that I’ve met so far have gay roommates too. Some treat the roommate relationship as a marriage, some treat it as an acquaintanceship, but, regardless, there’s always that common bond. And, of course, there are always accepting, masculine, straight allies that would be great roommates as well- it’s just your preference.
I believe that’s all the “wisdom” I can impart for now. College is the land of opportunity the place where you can reinvent yourself, as much or as little as you desire. Being gay shouldn’t define your experience- it’s one component of your vastly complex, fabulous persona. Embrace the freedom, express yourself, and learn along the way.