Coming Out Story 4
Coming out as an LGBT Ally has been an extensive learning process. As the heterosexual female who works at the LGBT resource center, I constantly receive the look, a quick vertical scan, followed by a step back, narrowing of the eyes, and finally silence. Apparently, this is the process to determine another's sexual orientation. Initially, I was terrified of strangers and friends classifying me within a wrong category. Eventually though, I realized that there are more important social issues than sexual orientation. I had to learn to be confident within my sexuality in order to remain stronger than the people discriminating against me, whether they are heterosexual or queer. I placed myself in an unfamiliar environment and as a result, I have learned some of my most important life lessons. I have become more confident with myself while becoming an ally for the LGBT community.
My journey begins in my junior year of high school, where I for once got to school early. There was a booth of kids signing up for something, and I decided to see what it was about. Little did I know, I was about to participate in my first day of silence. I decided that it sounded like a fun thing to do and well 'hey, people should be able to do what they want, right?' Well later that day in Spanish class, when the teacher was taking account of who was participating in the day of silence I raised my hand, and a boy across the room shouted "She's a lesbian, what??" This was the first time I realized the narrow-mindedness of my peers. I became afraid and ashamed because apparently even supporting the LGBT community has negative side effects. Today, it still hurts me when my peers attempt to explain to me that being gay is 'wrong'. I am still shocked that individuals who have grown up in such a diverse generation could still hold on to discriminations born in the past.
I began my college 'coming out' process during one of the most stigmatized political elections, especially concerning the LGBT community. I had a lot to learn, but my learning curve was almost a straight line up (no pun intended). I did not just learn a new vocabulary, information and classifications, but I was also aligning myself with a minority under attack.
Ond of the hardest issues I faced during my 'coming out' process was my Christian-raised boyfriend. His highly narrow-minded view of the world did not include the LGBT community. His father refers to homosexuality as a "sin," my boyfriend, was very uncomfortable with the LGBT community and as a result, almost hated it. His black and white view the world made my transformation as a LGBT supporter to Ally a very rocky road. Suddenly his mildly liberal girlfriend was correcting his speech, putting up 'no on prop 8' signs, and defending same sex marriage as quickly as she could breathe. I learned from this clash in ideology the importance of remaining true to my beliefs and always supporting what is right.
I feel like I have become a beacon for the closeted LGBT community. I have had people come out to me at parties because they hear I work at the LGBT Resource Center. I am highly involved in the Greek community, Student government and various leadership positions and my job instantly converts me to the 'safe zone'. I love that I can bring new information and fresh ideas to groups that might not be aware of LGBT issues.
I patiently help my friends use positive language that does not reinforce negative connotations with the gay community. I often interject a small fact or restate something with emphasis if I feel someone does not grasp a LGBT idea. It is weird that I would feel like a peer educator, when I still have so much more to learn. I learn something new everyday and I always find myself slipping up with my slang. It is hard to cut out sayings and phrases that originally were not meant to offend people, but obviously associates being LGBT as a negative aspect of life. I have had my sexuality questioned. I deal with the double takes and sideways glances. I am a heterosexual woman who has 'come out' as an LGBT Ally.