Hi, I'm "JL", and I am just finishing my sophomore year as a mass communications major at a small college in Connecticut.
For my first Oasis article, I'd just like to share something that I wrote anonymously for my high school's parent newsletter about a year ago:
A key word these days is "diversity." Diversity in the workplace, diversity in government, and especially diversity in schools. When people hear diversity they usually think of such minorities as African-Americans, the handicapped, and women. Not everyone is a white, able-bodies, heterosexual male. Heterosexual? Oh yeah, I forgot a minority group: homosexuals. Remember them? You know, people like Liberace and those guys in "The Birdcage." Oh yeah, and me. And just who am I? Maybe I'm your son, or your daughter, or your neighbor, or even your best friend. Here is what I will say about myself:
I was relatively popular in high school, I liked to play sports, and I also had to (and still have to) lead a double life. I went out on dates, I told and laughed at "fag" jokes, and it was all a lie (well, some of those jokes can be funny I guess).
But inside I was scared, depressed, confused, and vulnerable. And to an extent I still am all of those things. Well, here's what happened to me. I went to the only outlet where I could be totally anonymous: the Internet. I noticed someone local, only a few years older, and willing to "help." I jumped at the opportunity to talk to someone who could understand exactly what I was going through. I started talking to this person more often, he told me to be proud to be gay. I told him that I don't necessarily know that I am gay, maybe I am bisexual. He said that I was in denial, of course I am gay, if I think I might be then I am. He tried to get me in touch with others like me, or, rather others who were as vulnerable as I was. To make a long story short, I was manipulated, terribly. I was forced to proclaim things about myself that I was not comfortable saying. Luckily I realized what was happening before it was too late. Unfortunately it has made be quite untrusting of people.
It is still a difficult situation, it probably always will be. I still can't be all myself in public. I still have to laugh at "fag" jokes. And I still can't sign my name on this article. I may be more comfortable with who I am, but I am still not ready to take the next big step and completely be myself with everyone. Here is what I can say from my experiences to students going through what I went through:
Be careful! you are at a vulnerable stage, don't let people take advantage of you. If a situation feels wrong or seems awkward, it probably is! Don't let people force you or rush you into making a solid proclamation about yourself. When the time is right, you will know exactly who you are without any prodding from others.
This is one of the most important things I can say: utilize the resources available to you! There are people willing to listen, understand, and comfort you. It can take a lot off of your chest when you know that someone will listen without judging you. Choose someone you can trust; a guidance counselor, a teacher, or an administrator.
Finally, this is the single most important thing I can say: you are not alone!!
It may seem like it, and it may take a long time before you find a peer who can identify with you. Even I am still waiting just to find a peer who went through what I did go through, and still am going through. Don't let anyone try to change you. You are not damaged, you are not a less worthy person, and you don't have anything wrong with you.
Finally, to everyone: my story is not unique. Many kids go through the same thing every day. Don't shun them, if you feel strongly enough that you can't accept them, it's not your problem, leave them alone. Homosexuality is not a disease, it is not a handicap, and it is not a mental problem. It is not something that can be "changed" or "fixed" or "cured." If everyone can learn to accept homosexuality, many people will not have to spend years of their lives pretending to be someone they are not.
Well, there it is. Like I said, this article was written just about a year ago and a whole lot has happened since then, and I plan to share a lot of those things in future articles. Please feel free to write with any comments or questions! firstname.lastname@example.org