Getting honest about identity

Stefanie Buhrman

Life-changing realizations can lead to a confusing time.

Along with the common identity crises many students go through during their lives, coming out and telling those who are close about being gay showed to be an internal struggle for some.

“Well, I’ve pretty much known all my life I was attracted to guys,” said Nate Martin, sophomore in interior design. “I had the usual crushes on girls in middle school and what not, but I always had an attraction to guys, which seemed to grow stronger as I got older.”

For Martin, coming out was a gradual process. He told friends at the end of his sophomore year of high school, his sister the summer before his freshman year of college and his parents just last summer.

“It got to the point where I was finally getting comfortable with it myself, and didn’t feel I needed to hide it anymore,” he said. “Plus, I had a really great group of friends who I knew wouldn’t care either way, and probably already figured I was anyway.”

Although coming out to his friends was a breeze, Martin still had an obstacle waiting at home.

“The hardest part was coming out to my parents after coming home from my first year of college,” Martin said. “I was used to being open about it at school, so coming back home and hiding it again really stressed me out.”

Feeling under pressure, he finally told his parents.

“They were surprised, but after letting it set in they started to see the signs and what not,” Martin said. “My mom actually joked that she shouldn’t have let me taken dance classes in fourth grade, so it went a lot better than I expected. They said they still loved me and supported me, even if they didn’t agree with ‘the gay lifestyle.'”

Making the decision to come out may seem like a shaky time full of uncertainties, but in the long run, Martin said he felt it was for the better.

“Overall, it was probably the turning point in my life, especially after coming out to my parents. It has lifted a weight off my shoulders and finally let me be who I am completely,” Martin said. “I was kind of surprised by the reactions of everyone I told. Everyone was very supportive and I never had any bad or awkward situations in relation to it.”

Martin’s coming out experience turned out to be positive overall only with a few setbacks. For another student, coming out came out a little later than hoped.

“I knew for sure that I had been gay since I was 11 years old,” said Logan Jewett, freshman in aerospace engineering. “I started coming out at the beginning of my junior year in high school. I first told a couple older friends, who were seniors at the time.”

Although it was easy at first for Jewett, issues came up quickly when he was on the verge of heartbreak.

“The hardest part was telling my parents,” Jewett said. “It was a rather unorthodox way they found out.”

At this time, he was going through a break up with his first boyfriend. Through his battles with depression, a blog post concerned school counselors.

“[The post] made me seem suicidal,” Jewett said. “The counselors called in my parents and we just had a huge talk about it. It just kind of came up in the conversation.”

Once his parents found out, Jewett was not sure of the reaction he would receive.

“My mom was really supportive. She said she had her suspicions,” Jewett said. “My dad was surprised. He still thinks it is just a phase.”

Eventually the time came where Jewett felt ready to start telling more people; however, he had his reservations.

“I was getting antsy at the end of my sophomore year. I really wanted to come out, but I was nervous. I had heard the horror stories and I didn’t know how people would react.”

After deciding he could not hold his silence, Jewett finally started telling people about his sexuality.

“People didn’t treat me any differently,” Jewett said.

“In between sophomore and junior year, I reinvented myself. I had long hair and cut it short. I started to be more outgoing, whereas beforehand I was really shy. [Coming out] just came with the territory of the new me.”

Even after a first breakup and a untimely uncovering to his parents, Jewett feels that the overall experience went well.

“It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone was really cool about it and didn’t care. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, so that was cool. I never had anyone target me specifically because I was gay.”

Deciding to come out can be a very uneasy time in life and knowing when it is the right time can be quite stressful.

“For people afraid to come out: It might not be for everyone at this exact moment,” Martin said. “At some point you have to do it for yourself and not worry about what other people think.”