When I started college last year, I only knew two people out of the 8,200 students who go to Oswego. It was good to have a clean slate and be able to completely start over and make new friends.
In high school, a lot of people didn’t like me. I’m super outgoing and wasn’t afraid to share my views. I’m the type of person who raised her hand so much the teacher refused to call on me. Some guys in my classes would disagree with me just to piss me off. When I did talk in class, someone would raise their hand and say, “I disagree with everything Sara says!”
My freshman year of high school, two guys cornered me on the stairs and one tried to slam his backpack into me. He’d already written “Let’s snuff that psycho dyke bitch” about me on Facebook a few days earlier. The guys got detention and that was it. Then they left me alone and I never had a problem with them again, but I still got chills every time I walked past them in the hall.
But one of the worst parts was what they called me. I hadn’t even really admitted my sexuality to myself. It scares me that they figured it out before I did.
I’ve kind of always known I was interested in girls. I’ve always felt a deeper connection with girls, but I never thought much about it. Then in middle school I toyed with the idea that I was bisexual. Then, sophomore year, I was dating this guy for nine months. It was pretty serious, and he was the first person I ever told I liked girls. Then the next year we weren’t together and I came out as bisexual my junior year. Nobody really said much. A lot of people weren’t surprised.
It was nice when I told my mom. She pulled me over and gave me a hug and said, “Thank you for trusting me with that. That must have been hard for you.” It didn’t surprise me that she felt that way. I was always raised that you don’t have to have a man to be happy. Life lessons in the cereal bowl.
I didn’t really come out to my dad until spring break this year. His response was, “Am I supposed to be surprised?” He said he doesn’t care as long as I’m happy. I realized it was stupid that I didn’t tell him before. I honestly don’t know why I made a big deal about it.
I’ve dated more guys than I have girls, but I realized this year I’m not really interested in guys. In relationships I had with guys I always felt something was missing or something was off. I like being equals. My girlfriend and I are both very small. I don’t feel like either of us need to be the dominant one, and there doesn’t have to be a power play. We’re not trying to be better than each other.
It’s more comforting for me to be with another girl. I feel like I connect better with girls. I’ve just sort of accepted I’ll never be happy with a guy. I like being with someone who understands, relatively, how a female mind works.
As told to Diana Scholl.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Ardsley, NY, 2011
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When we moved to America, I tried to become more American. I was born in Korea and we moved to Marietta when I was 10. I have tried to get more into my Korean heritage recently. I’m trying to learn the history and where my family comes from and that sort of thing. I don’t speak Korean very well. I speak barely enough to get through to my parents.
I come from a very, very traditionalist, conservative Korean family. Growing up, I never knew what gay was. The concept was entirely foreign to me. I actually haven’t come out to most of my family. I’m pretty sure if my dad found out, he’d kick me out. My siblings know, I think, but we never talk about it.
I accidentally told my mom during my junior year of high school. I was thinking about it for a while. Then my mom and I were sitting in a room and she’s like, “Do you have something to tell me?” She said it was a phase and it would pass. We’ve never talked about it since. And a lot of tears were shed — by me. I don’t think she cried.
Being at college, away from my parents, is a lot more liberating. It gets a lot more difficult as I get more active in the community.
Ever since I’ve come out, I’ve been very proud of who I am. My first kiss with a guy was the summer after I came out, the summer between sophomore and junior year. A guy who’s now a really good friend of mine. We went out for a week. He didn’t think gay rights were really a thing. I helped him come out of the closet and become more active.
I want to do things for the community. I founded the Gay-Straight Alliance in my high school. There were a few other gay kids. Our GSA was more straight allies than queers, which was interesting.
It’s different here. I got to Emory and realized there’s so much I can do for the community. I really wanted to get my voice out there. There are more gays than I’ve ever met here. It’s refreshing. I never knew there were so many out and proud, active kids around. But still you don’t really see a gay couple holding hands.
I don’t particularly hang out with Korean kids at Emory. They keep to themselves and speak Korean. Also, Asian culture is very homophobic. I don’t know many gay Asians. There’s one person who comes to the Queer Students of Color group on campus, but that’s it.
I definitely want to come out to my parents, but I want to wait until I get a better foothold and can support myself. I’ve mentally dealt with it and made peace with how it is with my parents. But sometimes it’s hard. My home life feels like it’s a lie.
As told to Diana Scholl.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Atlanta, GA, 2010
To tell your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara, Age 19, Ardsley, NY
When I started college last year, I only knew two people out of the 8,200 students who go to Oswego. It was good to have a clean slate, and be able to completely start over and make new friends.
In high school, a lot of people didn’t like me. I’m super-outgoing and wasn’t afraid to share my views. I’m the type of person who raised her hand so much the teacher refused to call on me. Some guys in my classes would disagree with me just to piss me off. When I did talk in class, someone would raise their hand and say “I disagree with everything Sara says!”
My freshman year of high school, two guys cornered me on the stairs and one tried to slam his backpack into me. He’d already written “Let’s snuff that psycho dyke bitch” about me on Facebook a few days earlier. The guys got detention and that was it. Then they left me alone, and I never had a problem with them again, but I still got chills every time I walked past them in the hall. (more…)
Seattle advice columnist Dan Savage recently started an online video channel
called the “It Gets Better Project,” which reaches out to teenagers who are bullied at school for being gay. “The message: life really does get better after high school.” Check out his NY Times interview
and spread the word.
Magda, Age 17, Brooklyn, NY
I was born in Poland, and I’ve lived in Williamsburg most of my life. There used to be nothing here but factories. I used to hate it. But now there’s so much going on, I don’t want to leave for college next year.
I’m going to Poland this summer to stay with family for six weeks. I definitely won’t tell them I’m gay. Poland is one of those places being gay is really not tolerated. My mom’s really cool about it though.
I came out to myself my sophomore year, and to my mom recently, two months ago. I wasn’t really worried about telling her because I knew she’d accept me. But I just didn’t feel like I needed to tell her before that. (more…)