How do you tell someone that you tried to commit suicide? There really is no natural way, is there? Well I did – I tried to kill myself. It was the end of my freshman year at college and I had run out of all will to live. I came to college hoping to find a safe and accepting atmosphere, but unfortunately that wasn’t what I immediately found. As a gay Christian, it felt like there was no place for me at this school. To be completely honest, some days it still feels that way.
I’ve been called a faggot, a flamer, and a diseased person during my time at college. I have had someone refuse to hold my hand during a class activity because I was gay. I’ve witnessed a person spewing threats of violence against “faggots and flamers” in the dining hall, and I’ve been called disgusting for who I love. Please don’t think these are isolated incidents either; the sad thing is that things like this happen frequently to the gay community at college. But you know what has hurt me the most? The people who stand silently and watch it happen. You see, it isn’t just “homophobes” who supply the adversity to the LGBTQIA+ at college, it is the vast majority of people who stand silently by while their sisters and brothers are hurting. People are afraid of reaching out to the LGBTQIA+ community because it might look like they “support” certain political opinions or stances, so they remain silent.
It wasn’t the hate filled comments I’ve received that pushed me to try and commit suicide. It wasn’t differing political opinions or Biblical interpretations – it was a sharp silence and lack of compassion.
I want to shatter that silence.
At the end of my freshman year only a few people knew that I was gay. Slowly but surely I began the process of coming out. First I went to counseling to begin the healing process of my suicide attempt. Second, I built a foundation of friends who offered me support and love and I surrounded myself with them. Next, I wrote an article for the Vox Populi (a student publication) talking about what it was like being gay at college. Now in my junior year, I met with Conor and told him my vision for a student blog that I wanted to launch, and thus Student InQUEERy was born. In some ways I guess you could say that this blog was a result of that terrible night at the end of my freshman year.
One of the most common misconceptions is that I struggle with my sexuality – I don’t. In fact my sexuality is one of the simplest things in my life – I’m into guys. What I do struggle with are the challenges that come with being gay in this society, and more specifically at college. When I’m at home with friends and family my sexuality isn’t a problem in the least – I feel safe and accepted. When I am at college, being gay is my biggest problem – I’m often reduced to my orientation.
I’m afraid to hold my boyfriend’s hand. I’m afraid of getting kicked out of school. I’m afraid of being beaten up. I’m afraid that there will be no end to the verbal abuse.
I’m afraid of being marginalized. I’m afraid that I’ll leave this college no safer a place for the LGBTQIA+ community than when I started. But most of all I’m terrified that someone will be driven to the same place I was the night I tried to kill myself. I’m afraid that people don’t understand – student’s lives are at stake.
If you take anything away from this, understand that silence is often just as harmful as hate. By choosing not to play a role, you’re playing a role. Never be afraid to show love – it’s something we all need to learn.