This is one part of a series recounting the first college experiences and the lessons learned of Freshman at Georgetown University.
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Being the linguistics major I am, I have assembled a vast treasure trove of adjectives that accurately describe who I am: caring, honest (most of the time…), trusting, brave, people-pleasing (just don’t piss me off), altruistic to a fault, intelligent, friendly :), Christian, authoritative, cosmopolitan, snazzy, and goal-oriented. A veritable repertoire of characteristics, huh? You might notice that “gay”, “homosexual”, or “queer” didn’t make the cut… That’s because I’m still letting this personal aspect grow and assimilate itself into who I am as a person.
Like many of you, I assume, I don’t exactly come from the most accepting of homes. I’m from a small town in Georgia. I’m not talking about bustling Atlanta or charming Savannah; no, I lived in unpaved-roads, let’s-go-drink-beer-and-watch-NASCAR-on-a-Friday-night, hodunk Georgia. Not exactly the most fostering atmosphere for a young “faggot” (as I was most affectionately called) to grow up in. Unfortunately, I’ve had my fair share of beatings, abuse, and ridicule and have suffered the jejune forms of ostracization because of my homosexuality. These events culminated in my decision to remain so deep in the closet my first year of college that they would have needed a fifty-member search party and a bulky St. Bernard to drag me out.
Yet, I quickly noticed this staunch conviction change my very first week at Georgetown University. I went from being the only gay person I knew to being surrounded by them, which was probably the scariest realization I’ve ever had. I was utterly shocked at how straight guys responded in a genuinely caring and interested manner to a gay person’s story. College in Washington, D.C., turned out to differ drastically from my bucolic life back home. So slowly, one by one, I began telling trusted individuals about my sexuality.
Though far from being completely “out” (my parents still don’t have a clue…), I’m at least being selectively honest about who I am. I’ve joined an LGBTQ prayer group where we open talk about our issues and pray not for pardon for our “sins”, but so that others may gain understanding. I finally have straight friends who assure me that they will come to my aide if I ever need them. College has allowed me to build a community of gays, straights, whites, blacks, Asians, Christians, Muslims, atheists, Republicans, Democrats, vegans, and voracious carnivores. It’s through this community that I get to learn from others, and others hopefully get to learn from me.
So if you’re anything like how I was, don’t despair! To quote the popular anti-bullying and acceptance campaign: It really does get better. I wish I could tell you how and when and to whom you should come out, but really you’re the only one who knows when the time is right. Be studious, get good grades, act responsibly (I hope I don’t sound too paternal here), and hold out if you need to until college. A university campus is a convergence of all walks of life eager to engage you in dialogue to at least understand, if not accept, homosexuality from a gay person’s point of view. Keep on keepin’ on!
If you’re out and proud and you have supportive friends and your parents love your little gay self, cool. That’s great. If your story’s more like mine, however, take solace in the fact that you’ll soon be surrounded by a supportive community.
I wish everyone an informative and happy college career and a great start to the rest of your gay lives!