Considering how late I'm writing this, I ought to be smacked... Jeff is a god, just for your information, if he actually bothers to put this up...
The first month of college is everything you've been told and more. There's the struggle to fit in, to find your niche, your group of people. There's the homework, or lack thereof, and the responsibility of going to class that rests solely on you. Your parents aren't there to nag, at least directly, and if you want to skip, no one's going to notice in a class of 270. There are the late nights and insane schedules and parties and opportunities for getting wasted and/or sloshed. There's the dealing with a roommate and all that entails, and having people around you 24/7. There is the communal bathrooms and the near-impossibility sometimes of finding a moment that is totally yours alone.
Of course, there's also the opportunity. In my first month of college, not even, I've been to my first rock concert (Angie Aparo, who is phenomenal, go see him if you have a chance), I've seen the lesbian comedienne Elvira Kurt live, attended Pride Alliance meetings (our college GLBT group), and even been, by some weird bit of luck, to a gay club with a lot of straight people. It's absolutely insane. And, in a lot of ways, so much better than my hometown. Not that I'm not homesick a bit. Who wouldn't be? But instead of moping too much, I call my friends, or email them. I keep in touch, and pictures of many of my friends are scattered around my desk. Strangely enough, though, a high school friend lives upstairs from me, and my cousin as well as another friend live in the building next door. I feel lucky to have so many high school friends nearby.
But of course, a lot of college freshman can say the same things that I have. Most of them don't grapple with how much of themselves they should display or be. It's hard. I promised myself that I would not hide, that I wouldn't shove myself back in the closet just because I was coming to college. In a lot of ways, being gay here is easier than at home, where there are so few openly queer kids. Here, they litter the grounds like goose droppings. Okay, weird metaphor, but the geese here are vicious and I thought you'd like to know!
I swear there are other gay kids in almost all my classes. I know I'm not alone in the room. And it's interesting to note that the hero/main character of my Latin textbook, Horace (or as we refer to him, Quintus), had relationships with both men and women throughout his life. Of course, the book itself doesn't mention that to my knowledge, but I looked Horace up in a book about the gay literary heritage. There are random people with gay pins or patches on their bags around almost all the time. I feel a lot more comfortable in a general sense. It'd be nice to have my old support network, but I suppose I've exchanged one for the other.
Of course, there's always the option, that thin veneer of heterosexuality I could adopt, that I know a lot of other college queers do. It's a thought, a way of maybe blending in better with my mostly-straight hall. To not be so obvious. I sat in the Pride Alliance office this morning between classes, just sitting there, doing my reading for my next class, and at one point, I said to myself, in reference to my clothes, "I feel so butch" in an almost-joking sense. It bothered me. I don't know why. I've visited the college 2 in 20 floor, the floor for GLBT students and our straight allies. I know how gay that floor is. I know how comfortable I am there. Maybe it frightens me. As much as I believe in, like I wrote a month or so ago, in revolution, NOT assimilation, I still don't like sticking out like a sore thumb. I'm tired of it. That's why I like Pride Alliance meetings and the 2 in 20 floor- I don't stick out. I'm within the range of normal. It's so wonderful.
But I still can't live in the subculture all the time, because I like the wider reality. I like straight people. I really do! Yet it's tiring to be around them all the time. I can't feel comfortable at this point in my college career to be totally myself among a group of straight people that I've only known for a month. Escaping to a Pride Alliance meeting or randomly visiting the 2 in 20 floor is necessary at this point. It's not like with my high school friends, most of whom I was comfortable enough around to be the whole Beth, as opposed to the generic Beth. Being gay is not the end all and be all of my existence, but not expressing such an integral part of my being is uncomfortable and stifling. Unfortunately, being gay has shaped a lot of the way I look at the world. Always being different, somewhat outcast, is critical to my worldview. Even if I didn't always have the word, the reason why, I knew it was there. Denying that is painful at times. Hopefully I'll figure things out soon.
Just some thoughts, and brain candy.
Bethany Kimball is a freshman at UMass-Amherst. She likes music, plaid, and her friends. Feel free to write with your comments, opinions, or random chatter to firstname.lastname@example.org