by Blake Kanewischer
August 1996

As caterpillars emerge from their cocoons to become butterflies, so too do glbt teens when they take the big step and leave for university or college. I'm leaving for the University of Calgary on August 28 and I'm both excited and nervous simultaneously.

I've been closeted to my family (all but mom--and then only recently) for 18 years now, going on 19, and I've been greatly restricted as far as my "gay" activities--who I can hang with, what I can comment on, and so on. But this isn't news to you--*any* gay teenager who's closeted can tell you this! So I don't need to tell you about those feelings and how stifling they are. I *do* however, need to try to express some of the hope and joy I feel about my pending move.

This move will be a new beginning that marks the blossoming of a gay activist in full. No longer will I be restricted to being out on my website or writing for Oasis. I can finally give presentations on what it's like to be gay or what it's like to be suicidal because you're gay. I can express myself and my gayness more completely and more fully. I'll have a boyfriend (hopefully!), or at any rate, I'll have a better chance of finding him.

It's a big thing, don't get me wrong...I mean, I'm just as scared as the next person about the whole shtick of moving out on my own, having to deal with *REAL* budgets and stuff like that, but I can't dwell on that, and don't. I've got my schedule of things planned already--volunteering with this gay group and that gay group and going to this gay bar and that gay bar. It'll be a blast, to say the least!

But, you say, I'm not going to university or college away from home, or I'm just not going to university or college at all. Even if you don't go to university or college away from home, you can still find work away from your birthplace, especially if your birthplace is Upper Rubber Boot, Saskatchewan! Or, even if you're not going to school away from home, universities and colleges are generally much more accepting and much more cool places to be openly gay, lesbian or bisexual. They're left-wing havens, usually, and such environments make it easier to be oneself.

And, if you are one of the lucky ones going away to university or college, use it as a true chance to explore your sexuality and express it, not to repress it. For the first time, you're moving away from the parental units who have smothered you and oppressed you for so long that you're five years behind on your sexuality because they've imposed straight (and narrow) shackles and confines upon you. Use university as a way to burst out, to break loose, and to shed the restraints of the oppressive straight society!

If you're not anywhere near graduating from high school yet, have hope! There's *ALWAYS* a light at the end of the tunnel, but you just can't see it yet. Keep on going, keep on persevering, and you'll eventually find your niche and your light at the end of your tunnel.

Let me tell you, the first night I sit with my boyfriend on the couch and cuddle without fear of my parents walking in or his parents walking in, that will be all the gratification I need for putting up with 18 years of being a gay closeted kid.

Blake is an 18-year-old queer computer science student in his second year at Medicine Hat College in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. He cane be reached at bkanwisc@mlc.awinc.com, or visit his home page.
©1996 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.