From Catholic School to College
Hello everyone, my name is Ian. I am an 18 year old male currently in my first year at a large university. I have known, like many other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identified individuals, that I am gay from early childhood. Well, ‘known’ may not be the correct word, for I certainly did not understand what I was feeling, nor what it meant to be gay as a child. I knew only that I was different. As a child, I attended Catholic school for seven years. Grades kindergarten to sixth grade were all consumed by indoctrination. While I now know that not all faiths discriminate towards homosexuality, nor do all Catholics, I believe my time there instilled within me an overwhelming amount of fear. I believe that my trepidation in recognizing my attraction towards the same sex was caused by this early exposure to discrimination. I distinctly remember, during the third grade, having an unusually strong bond with a boy in the class. When I approached my teacher, whom I will leave anonymous, and questioned this strange attachment, she simply said “God does not approve of such behavior.” Needless to say, this response baffled me beyond belief. I had absolutely no idea what I had done wrong; only that I had made a friend.
Fast forward. I am now in a public middle school after finishing the sixth grade in Catholic school. My father removed both my brother and I due to a poor mathematics and science program. I suddenly find myself in a completely new environment, with a whole new batch of kids. As the time progresses, I establish a strong friend group, but the town in which I live is rather conservative and widely known to be prejudiced (more so racist). During middle school was when I really began to notice my abnormal attraction to the same sex. I would constantly tell myself that it would disappear and that high school would be different. I would force myself to look away from men or to look at women so as to “fix” or force myself into “normality.” I felt that something was wrong with me and was desperately confused, although the thought of being gay still had not entered my mind. I was afraid to speak with anyone about it, living in such a conservative area.
Fast forward once again. I am now in the town’s public high school. I have a very strong (and liberal) friend group established, a couple of whom are gay. I still have not fully questioned my sexuality and run into a massive road block upon meeting a girl named Morgan. I still to this day cannot explain what I felt for her, but it confused me so much that I would not begin to understand my sexuality until senior year. She left after the ninth grade and I continued to go through high school closeted, even to myself. It was not until approximately halfway through my senior year that I finally admitted to myself that I was not straight. I began the usual debate of “Do I like girls?” Of course I was not brave enough at the time to admit I do not, for I still had the usual fears of being gay. The debate lasted until the end of the year, when it was time to graduate. The very last day of school, I came out to one of my closest friends. It was a very awkward conversation and she accepted it immediately. This marked the beginning of my rapid coming out. Over the summer that followed, I told all of my friends, many of whom were highly skeptical. To this day, despite my very Catholic family, I have not met an ounce of animosity. I am now in college and could not be happier with who I am. I could not be in a more liberal, progressive environment, nor could I be happier. I now recognize that being gay is not a hindrance upon my life, but a blessing. I understand that having a family is still entirely possible and that my life will be filled with joy. I live openly and unapologetically, for I am inferior to no one.
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