Here is the continued accounts of my coming out at a conservative Lutheran college…
After finding out that my girlfriend of six months had been pregnant and gotten an abortion without talking to me, I used that as my out to break up with her. I had been having a harder time struggling with who I was, and this gave me a way out without having to reveal my real feelings just yet.
To compound the conservative nature of the college, it was also in a very small mid-western town of about 5000 people. There was not a whole lot to do, and also, not a whole lot of people for me to have anything in common with. That summer, I decided to stay in the town instead of coming home. It gave me the opportunity to hang out with some college friends without the stress of classes.
I had a job working at a pizza place delivering pizzas. One night towards the end of summer, one of the assistant managers decided to have a little party for some of us. We all got really drunk that night, and it was obvious I wasn’t going home as I wasn’t 21 yet, and the cops had nothing better to do than find people out and about. So he let the girls crash on the couches and we crashed in his bedroom. I didn’t know he had other intentions, and he had some fun with me… I was drunk and confused, and didn’t really know what was going on.
The next day, the girls asked what happened as they heard us from the living room. I told them what had happened, and that I was too drunk to stop him. That whole incident only made me even more confused… I didn’t like what had happened that night and sought counseling. The only place I knew to go, was to the school counselor. I told her what had happened, and she helped me to cope with the fact that I had been raped. She wanted to help me go after the guy, and I told her I just wanted it behind me. I never went back to her.
I had visited Lincoln, NE many times as it was the closest big city to my college. I got the nerve up one night to visit there and tracked down one of the local gay bars there. I walked in, and I could tell the people thought I had walked into the wrong place. I sat down at a table, and looked around the place. There was a pool table with purple felt, and a mannequin hanging from the ceiling. It was a very unfamiliar scene to me, and I didn’t feel comfortable there. Nobody came to talk to me, and I didn’t feel right there, so I left.
I spent the rest of the summer break watching Oprah and Donahue… Back then all the shows pretty much centered around gays coming out and the like. I finally got the nerve to tell one of my best friends in college about what all had happened, and that I had finally realized that I could no longer deny who I was. I told her that I was gay, and to my surprise, she gave me a big hug, and told me that she was so glad that I trusted her enough to say something. She told me about her brother being gay, and a big star on Broadway, something she had never said to me before.
She helped me to find a counselor off campus that could allow me to come to terms with who I was, and not change me, but help me realize that I was a good person, and that there was nothing wrong with me. It took me a few sessions with the counselor, but finally told her why I was there. She said that something like that could not be easy to cope with in the surroundings that I had put myself in. I explained that I had brought it upon myself to try and teach myself to be “normal.” Outside of the college atmosphere, she really helped me to realize that I was ok, and didn’t need to change.
I spent the next year slowly coming out to my friends one by one. Most of them seemed to be ok with it… A few of them told me that they still considered me a friend, but didn’t really talk to me much. I found a lot of strength and support from my friends in the art department.
I know that the school had caught wind of my revelations, and one day I was working my job in the A/V department. One of my jobs was checking in the new videos and getting them ready for rentals. One of the videos that came across my desk was a video about conversion. It was an aid the school had decided they needed in order to try and help homosexuals realize they are straight. It was never suggested to me that I rent it, but I know that my boss had hoped I would take the hint. Shortly after that, I relieved myself of my work study job and got a job at the cafeteria instead.
The school left me alone for the most part after that, and for the most part there weren’t many opportunities for me anyway. Only so much you can do when there are no other “out” gay people at the school. I did have a brief relationship, if you want to call it that, with a guy from my Human Anatomy class… His pickup was rather clichÃ©… asking if I wanted to study together. Let’s just say, I had every intention of actually keeping to the books, but it was clear he had other intentions. He was studying to become a pastor, so the study sessions got less and less frequent, and he no longer looked at me on campus. Once in a while, he would call up and see if we could get together once I moved off campus. I was lonely and desperate, and most of the time caved.
After a year of counseling, I finally got the nerve to tell my mother. I called her up, and told her that I was coming home over Easter break, and that I had something I really needed to talk to her about. I came home, and I still remember the day very clearly, I sat down on the couch, and she was across the room in the chair. I got really quiet and finally after a long delay, I spoke up, I said, Mom, I don’t know how to tell you this other than to just say, I’m Gay. Mind you, I had gone over every scenario with my counselor from being kicked out, to her being ok… The one thing I wasn’t prepared for, was her response.
My mom looked me square in the eyes and said, that she had something to tell me… All she said was, “So am I.” Was I ever in shock! That was the one scenario that my counselor and I had not thought of. Needless to say it was an instant bonding moment! She called up her co-workers and told them what had happened… She had been afraid I was coming home to tell her I disapproved of her lifestyle, that I had figured her out, and being at the school I was at, that I was going to try and change her. We went out with her friends that night, and she took me to some of the local gay bars.
That last year of college, I did finally make it back to the gay bars in Lincoln, and even made it to Omaha… Surprisingly, they both had very large gay populations. Omaha, still has some of the best bars that I have ever been to… They take a lot of pride in their bars there. That year, a new student came to school… He was quite obviously gay (think lead singer of Dead or Alive, who just happened to be his favorite band). We ended up dating. He had come from UNL and was quite familiar with the gay scene in Lincoln. He introduced me to a lot of the better known drag queens there, and I would come down every Sat night and help them get dressed for their shows.
This last year of college was the year when I finally lost all respect for the college, and had no desire to return to the school. .. Things were going fairly well with me and the boyfriend… although all we really had in common was the fact we were gay. Then it happened, I got a visit from the Student Life Office at my apartment. It had come to their attention that I was dating another man, and felt the need to talk to me (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the guy being the son of one of the theology professors at the college). They told me that they did not approve of our relationship, and said that if we did not end our relationship, they would be kicking my boyfriend out of college and that he would have to go into therapy.
I was about 2 weeks from graduation, and they said that they would let me finish out my schooling. The two of us had realized that we weren’t going to work out, so, to make the school feel better, we called it off. We were about to anyway. I didn’t want him getting kicked out of school. I don’t know what happened to him after that year, I haven’t been back to the college since then. I had many conversations with some of my professors about being gay, and not one of them told me that I needed to be saved… It was strictly the administration that was trying to keep the college’s image from being tarnished by little old me being gay, and most importantly, a practicing gay.
Yes, it was a difficult process, but I think that it certainly made me a stronger person. When I finally accepted who I was, I no longer had any doubts. I had done all I could to try and change that aspect of me, but I finally realized, that to try and change, I could never be honest to myself and others.