I came out when I was a freshman in college. My parents actually confronted me when I was 18, and said they were totally okay because they had dealt with the “death of the life they thought I’d live and the rebirth of a new, uncharted one” – all while I didn’t know. During that time, I surrounded myself with the people I was “supposed” to be friends with – straight guys. Needless to say, I didn’t fit in. I pretended to be straight at a great price to my emotional stability.
My dad was in a fraternity in college and had hoped I’d follow in his footsteps. He obviously was incredibly supportive of whatever path I chose, but thought that fraternities were an integral part of the college experience, and believed rushing “out” would certainly impede me from the path he imagined.
I was so scared to come out to even my best straight girl friends that I waited until 3am the night before leaving for college. The mind plays funny games with the unknown. While I couldn’t get myself to use the actual words for another 6 months – funny how a simple 3-letter word can be impossible to utter – they certainly got the point. Their support shocked me, even though it never should have been in doubt, and in an instant a 500-pound weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was no longer me against the world, now I had people in my corner – and to anyone else I came out to it was “like me or not, I’m not changing, ball’s in your court.”
When I arrived at Emory, I was the same shy 18-year-old that took off on the one-way United flight bound for Atlanta. But as we went wheels-up, I decided I was done lying once and for all. It was time to find friends who cared for me, not “me.” No one introduces themselves as straight, and I certainly wasn’t wearing a rainbow flag – not out of shame but it just wasn’t my style. I decided I was done with the games, that I would never have a “crush” on a girl who I know wouldn’t be interested or hook up with a girl I’d know wouldn’t question my lack of desire.
I rushed under those pretenses, joined a fraternity and rose through the ranks to be the first openly gay president elected on my University’s campus. Needless to say, I was anything but shy. My rise was not a testament to anything in my character. It, instead, was a reflection on the underlying good of a group of straight men who had never been given a chance to prove how open-minded they truly were.
The uncharted path is a lot more parallel to the “charted” one than anyone had previously imagined – and in a good way. I wish that when I was in high school, I had a website like this to let me know that in the end, everything would be alright. I feel blessed to live the life I live, and for that I am forever indebted, trying to pay it back by telling my story and working to garner a greater level of acceptance and understanding in circles often considered off limits to LGBT supporters.
I’m From Blue Springs, MO. “Eventually I came out to my entire fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, during a meeting, though most of them already knew through one-on-one conversations with me. I half expected to see some of the guys cringe, but instead I was welcomed with a huge round of finger clicks (our way of showing approval). I came out to the rest of my unaffiliated friends and was received with the same open arms. This was blowing my mind, here I am at small Baptist private school, and everyone seemed to love me the same as before.”
I’m From Bloomsburg, PA – Video Story. “My next three months were probably the most surreal time in my life. I couldn’t go anywhere without one of my teammates pulling me aside for that quiet moment, that, “Hey, man, just wanted to let you know, I heard and it’s really cool with me, I got no problems with that, sorry about anything I might have said.”
I’m From Baton Rouge, LA. “He had me sit down on a bed, which was more awkward. He asked a couple general questions. Has anyone done this or that to us? What do I think of this? He then said that he dated a girl who, it turns out, prefers other girls. I think I started to sweat around this time. He then said, “So, I don’t have a problem with it (which was a non-sequitur, but I guess he was desperate for a segue), but I need to know for your sake if you’re gay.”