December 1998

Well, for those of you who may remember, I wrote for Oasis briefly a while ago. At the time I was a junior and I was out, but I didn't quite understand myself completely. Now a senior in High School, I'm a little more understanding of myself. As I go through the college search, a "friendly" college is very high on my list. I've decided to apply early to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. My essay topic was "Describe a risk that you have taken and discuss its impact on your life." The essay is as follows:

I will be completely honest, I have never been skydiving, nor was I the first teenaged volunteer to explore the moons of Mars. In fact, the only piercings I have are one hole in each ear and I don't have any tattoos either. At first glance, I will admit, I don't look like an extremist who feels the need for "the ultimate adrenaline rush" and for the most part, I like to keep two feet planted firmly on the ground. However, it is my belief that one does not have to do something "wild and crazy" to be a risk taker; a single declarative sentence can both be the biggest risk and have the most impact on your life. I've taken such a risk myself and know the after effects of such a statement firsthand.

I "came out" as a lesbian at the end of my sophomore year. For the most part, I had grown up surrounded by the mixed signals of suburban life. While many people projected a nonchalant attitude toward homosexuality, others suggested that AIDS was the cure/punishment for gays and that "someone should ship all of the flamers off to an island." I don't think I realized the impact my coming out would have on both my life as well as the lives of others.

When I first "came out," I really wasn't ready for the repercussions my bold statement would cause. I found myself taking the more controversial side during class discussions and started trying to educate people about a life I was just learning about myself. I felt as if I was the "only one" and that no one understood me. I went to great lengths to defend positions I didn't have enough information to support. I lost friends who I thought would always be there for me but also gained allies I never knew would be supportive. My true friends and allies, who remained loyal and supportive, would help me the most. One friend in particular actually reacted to my "coming out" with great joy. She congratulated me on my bravery, words that I hadn't yet become accustomed to since some had reacted with hatred, ignorance, or confusion. It was through friends like her, along with various bits of information that I was able to gather from books and new-found friends in the gay community, that helped me grow stronger in my beliefs and firmer in my defenses.

I'm not saying it's been easy -- it hasn't. I've endured name-calling, gossip, prank phone calls, as well as other forms of harassment. But, when I think about it, a friend's words come to mind, "There are two kinds of people you'll come across-those whom you want in your life and those who don't matter at all." Clearly, those who have tried to hurt me with prejudicial words don't play a major role in my life.

Whenever I take a controversial side during a discussion about homosexuality, whether in the classroom or out, I am taking a risk. I'm not trying to change every one's mind, I'm just trying to make them think. As far as I can tell, my personal environment at school and in my town, has become more understanding because of it. Perhaps, I've just learned to adjust, but I think all in all there has been compromise on both sides.

So in conclusion, no, I never dove through an icy pond to save a drowning puppy or laid down my life for a major political figure (or even a minor one), but I have taken risks by simply speaking my mind and at least I can say I've been honest with both myself and the world.

Any questions or comments can be sent to Rubyfrt@aol.com

©1998 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.