Going to college is a huge milestone in so many people’s lives. I know when I first came to college this year I was stoked. College, however, can be terrifying for a number of reasons. Whether it be more homework, new people, bills, or one of the other various reasons college is eye opening. For some people, there is a reason that is even more profound, some people come to college and they are gay or lesbian and most likely still in the closet. I am one of those people. Coming to Carroll College, a small Catholic school, has been the most stressful and frightening experience of my life and yet it has been the most rewarding.
I am not out to many of my friends or family (I guess that changes now), but I want to talk about a serious issue that affects many campuses across the nation. Homosexuality is a huge issue, and over the last couple of years we have made leaps and bounds forward especially after gay marriage was allowed in the United States. On campus, however, things are a little different for a number of reasons.
Carroll College is situated in Helena, Montana; this is the capital of an extremely conservative state. Needless to say, progression is not their thing and growing up here has always made it hard for me as a person. Carroll College is also a Catholic school, and being Catholic, I have no problem attending, but as a gay, I definitely feel outed.
When I first decided to write this article I wanted to meet with some of the representatives of the church on campus. I decided to meet with the peer ministers (students who help guide faith on the dorm floors). Only four out of 12 got back to me about the subject; one was helpful and sat down with me, one avoided it, the third planned to meet with me but never got back to me after I said that I was gay, and the last one said she was too busy. If the representatives of faith at the school cannot even bother to sit down to have a meeting with me than how am I and other gays supposed to feel comfortable on campus.
Walking to class each day and wondering if people are going to point out that I am a homosexual frightens me, but enough is enough. Yes I am a gay man, but put the emphasis on man. I am a human and I am the same as everyone else; I need love, I need attention, and I need equality.
College is hard enough, and when you add the extra stress of feeling outed or being different, it creates a whole new spectrum of issues. I think there are a number of solutions that could be implemented on all campuses but especially at Carroll.
- Let it be something that is talked about on campus, have open dialogue.
- Train the campus peer ministers in talking about homosexuality so that they do not feel the need to avoid the issue.
- Create an LGBTQ+ group and announce what it is; allow for people of all sexualities to speak about their feelings so that gays, lesbians, transgender people, bisexuals, and straights can all develop strong friendships.
We need open communication about this issue and to have stronger dialogues on campus so that everyone feels comfortable. People should not have to hide in a shell, they should be able to express their emotions freely and be treated with a standard of equality across campus. We are the next generation and it is up to us to change what we want to see changed and to do what we want to see done.