So it’s your first year. There are probably so many things going on that you barely have time to think. If you are like I was, your views on the world are probably changing and you are beginning to find out who you really are. And I am sure that for many of you, that means discovering your true sexual orientation. If you happen to be in this situation, here are four things to keep in mind when accepting yourself and coming out:
1) Come out when you are ready
I have heard so many people tell others to come out before it’s “too late”. Well, it’s actually never too late. Whether you come out at 20 or 40, it doesn’t matter, as long at you think it’s the right time for you. Personally, I came out when I was 15 years old and although it was young, it was the right time for me. Just keep in mind – you are never going to be completely comfortable telling somebody for the first time. You just have to take that risk, no matter what age you are.
2) Don’t let other people tell you how to act
Being gay does not define you, nor anyone else, as a person. The concept that you have to act a certain way if you are gay is completely a myth and based on misguided stereotypes. It was a concept that I unfortunately believed in when I first came out and it really held me back from truly accepting who I was. Most importantly, remember that being gay is only a single part of you; it does not reflect who you are or what you are able to do/accomplish in life.
3) People are more accepting that you think
One of the most memorable parts of my high school career was during government class, where we were having a discussion about gay marriage. The class was full with people who ran track with me, and I didn’t exactly think they were the most accepting people. I walked in thinking “Oh here we go.” As I was expecting, I spoke openly about gay marriage and debated with a girl sitting across from me. Class ended and my track friends started should “You go Big B (my track nickname)!” and “You totally rocked that.” The moral of this story: don’t judge people just because you think they will judge you. The people who you think are least likely to be accepting are sometimes the most accepting.
4) People are here to help you
When I first came out, I really didn’t have anyone to turn to and it really inhibited me from advancing in my life. Once I had a support system, it was easy to be who I wanted to be. Don’t be afraid to get involved with the gay community and take advantage of the Ohio State resources for LGBT students. I went to first-year LGBT cohort for my first year and it helped me to meet some of my best friends. There are amazing support systems available to you, and using these systems will really help in the coming out process. If you don’t want to use university resources, there are so many people around you who can help as well!
College is a time of so much change, and sometimes that change can be difficult. But with the amazing resources at Ohio State and the level of acceptance at the university, there will always be someone by your side to support you in your decisions. Above all, remember that life is a gift and there is no need to waste the gift living somebody else’s life. Just be the best you that you can be!
P.S. If you are straight and reading this, make sure to always be supportive to friends coming out and questioning their sexual orientation – it makes all the difference to them.