The Daily Northwestern

Letter to the Editor: Coming out is a personal process no one can rush

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In response to the brave student who shared his story of accepting his sexuality:

I also don’t remember how old I was when I figured out I wasn’t just slow to hit puberty, but that I actually liked guys. And only guys. I didn’t even believe it for over six years, until senior year of high school. Like you described, I too always played the “passive straight” card to my friends and family.

I used to make fun of other students and call them gay. I explicitly remember bullying a kid on the bus in sixth grade, calling him gay. Turns out, he’s straight. I’m not.

I also always told my family and friends I wasn’t interested in having a girlfriend, or that I was too busy. That lie hurt the least because it was partially true.

In Junior year of high school, I argued against gay marriage in my AP U.S. Government class; in my eyes the Bible said it was wrong. Like you, I wanted to believe people could change their sexuality; I believed I could change. I convinced myself that God wanted me to be chaste. He put this challenge before me, and the only way to not go to hell was to change, platonically marry a girl or never marry.

I also became more paranoid of my appearance as I realized my sexuality wasn’t changing. I stayed away from all stereotypes associated with being “feminine”: don’t move your wrists when you talk, don’t cry, don’t cross your legs, don’t walk with your hips. The list goes on.  

The summer before senior year, I met — for the first time ever — a gay person who didn’t fit the stereotypes I’d heard (I only knew about three out people in my tiny hometown). I learned being gay only defines your physical attraction, and nothing else. Then during the spring before I graduated, I said “I’m gay” out loud for the first time, to myself alone in my room. I accepted I would never like girls. I cried from shame. But I was able to stop hiding from myself.

I think choosing not just to write, but also publish your essay is a bigger step than you realize. You’re way braver than I was.

In the summer before I started college, I also tried to find the nerve to come out to my family. I didn’t know whether they would accept it, but I, like you, was far more afraid of scaring them, losing trust or “corrupting” their memories and view of me. I knew they would still love me, but I didn’t want to burden them with potentially negative comments from our community, or worse, our church. I made a vow to stop hiding as soon as I got to college.

On the first day of Wildcat Welcome, I nonchalantly said “I’m gay” to my PA group while they were joking about how I lived in the sorority quad. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and internally, I was screaming at myself to stop. Even though it may have caught most of them by surprise, they really thought nothing of it.

Two days after the presidential election, my mother asked if I was “homosexual” over a text after a late night phone call where I dropped plenty of hints. It was messy, I was sobbing, but my parents and my family still love me.

I see many similarities between our stories. You are so strong for living through a struggle that most people will never understand — and that’s because society is messed up, not you.

It took me a very long time to realize God made me perfect. I realized being gay doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have children; I know I want to be a father. Marriage is called “traditional” only to oppress others (there are loads of “untraditional” marriages covered up in history). I realized being gay is natural, and there is nothing wrong with me. Love is love, and it doesn’t matter with whom it’s shared. Don’t rush, take the time you need, keep taking baby steps and love yourself.

There are two things you must always remember.

One: there is NOTHING wrong with you. If anything, this struggle has made you a better person because you can empathize better than most.

And two: You are never alone. Your experience is unique, but there are many people here who understand. And there are many more who will be amazed and will love you more for you being your true self. Whenever you’re ready, you can reach out to anyone in this community; we are here for you always. Have hope, because it gets better.

Charlie Collar
Weinberg and Bienen junior