“There’s a gay club at this school, but the administration won’t let the Christian students set up a club” – My church pastor, talking about a public high school that many of the church’s youth went to.
“You’re not trying to defend yourself, are you?” – My mom, when she found out I was writing an essay on the same-sex marriage debate in the USA for English.
“How can you be telling other people about this? You know this affects me and your dad too.” – My mom, when a (now former) friend from church brought up my sexuality to her.
“Go read Romans Chapter One” – My dad, when he read my gay rights essay.
“The Bible is very clear on homosexuality” – A family friend, when discussing why someone they knew didn’t want to join the church (because their brother was gay).
In churches when I was growing up, the phrase “struggling with homosexual thoughts and feelings” was thrown around a lot, like it was some sort of sickness or grave sin to be anything other than heterosexual. I grew up very aware of the fact that my sexuality was a contentious subject in my house, my place of worship, and my school.
I don’t struggle with “homosexual thoughts.” The only thing I continue to struggle with is other people’s perception of my sexuality, and the repercussions those perceptions have had on my mental well-being. Since the age of twelve, when I found out I was different from my classmates at my small Catholic school, I have struggled with how other people view my sexuality in a negative light. It has affected my friendships, how I will look for a teaching job, my family relationships, and everything else in my life. I have had to grow up afraid of what would happen if my family, my peers, my church leaders found out.
Since coming to university I have found a lot more acceptance and a lot less of a reason to be afraid of what others think. It can only get better from here.