Acceptance: The Story of a Gay College Man
Yes, I’m gay. Contrary to the beliefs of many, I do not sparkle like Edward Cullen when I step into the sunlight, nor do I end class presentations with a flare of rainbow colored confetti. Shocking, right? Not really - especially for those who have grown up in situations similar to mine.
I attended a small high school and attended a college where Greek life ruled the social scene. This is what I’m here to discuss. How does one function as a closeted gay man on a campus that prides itself in its acceptance of cultural diversity, all while serving as an active member in the Greek system of that same institution which most certainly does not pride itself in its acceptance of diversity? That, my friends, is not an easy question to answer.
Let’s take a step back. The drama began for me when my high school girlfriend (yes, I dated a real live female) claimed she couldn’t be with me because she thought, “I think you might be gay.” HOLD UP! This was the girl I’d lost my virginity to – a bit uncomfortable, you might say. This inspired a great deal of soul searching on my end; I was not yet ready to accept that I was gay, let alone deal with the reactions of others to the news. I am not proud to say that at that point, I continued to live in my own lie, rather than come to terms with my true feelings.
Fast-forward two years, and you’ll see me marching to fraternity row; I rushed, I pledged, and I conquered (maybe not that last one, but we’ll go with it). I willingly integrated myself into a culture that is notorious for excessive partying and the objectification of anyone who crosses its threshold. At that point in my life, I stuck to my guns and chose not to disclose my secret, yet integral aspect of my identity. I have no doubt that people questioned my sexuality because I never brought girls home, never talked about dating, and never lost myself in lust over whoever was considered the hottest girl of the time. Some would say that makes me a gentleman, but others aren’t so friendly about it. I did try to date a few girls, but these attempts amounted to a number of lost causes. My heart just wasn’t in it.
At this point, I must broach the obvious question: why did I try so hard to conceal the truth from myself and from others? Fear. I was afraid of losing relationships that I valued, with friends, with my family, and even with people whom I hadn’t yet formed a relationship of any kind. Time and time again, I heard people, people I called friends, talk about others who were openly gay as if it were a disease that should be avoided at all costs. I counted myself as lucky that they didn’t know about my sexuality and that they were still on my proverbial team. Fortunately, I have discovered that friendships with people of that opinion are not really worth the effort, and sincerely contradict the true essence of friendship. In other words, if someone cannot find it within himself or herself to accept your sexuality, they aren’t really your friends.
Today, I am a firm believer that “coming out” should be something that happens in accordance with the individual’s personal wishes and agenda, and that is perhaps because I was not granted that luxury in many cases. I discovered the hard way that many people cannot be trusted to keep such information to themselves.
Additionally, let me be the first to tell you: BEING GAY IS NOT A CHOICE. I did not wake up one morning and decide that I was going to alienate myself from all the “normal” people in the world. If you are one who considers sexuality a choice, I implore you to ask yourself: why would anyone subject himself or herself to social discrimination willingly? And if you are one of the people out there who has ended a friendship over someone’s sexuality, do us all a favor and patch things up with that person. Life is too short to give up friends based on whom they find attractive. In terms of the Greek system, I found that many of my brothers were accepting of me. I am very fortunate in that aspect. I also found that the ones who weren’t accepting were the ones who I wouldn’t have befriended anyway for unrelated reasons.
If you are reading this and feel that you identify with my story, I will not lie to you: coming out will probably never be something that is easy in this lifetime. I have not completed the process myself, but I have accepted myself and am making great strides to telling those I love. However, nothing that is worth having comes easily. So, if you want to come out of the closet, be sure you’re ready to hit the ground running. Be confident in who you are, and don’t let other people keep you from being happy. What's the alternative? It's hiding your feelings, lying about your relationships, and refusing yourself of loving who you want to love – which will never make you happy. So, be honest with yourself and with everyone in your life because who you love, and who you are should not be a secret. It shouldn't have to be a secret.
"In search for true happiness -- love always comes first."
Note from the Editor:
The author has chosen to post anonymously. As should have been inferred in the passage above, all of his friends and family should learn about his sexuality first from himself, rather than from others.