Netley is a first-year pharmacy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The week before fall break marked a turning point in many people’s lives around the country and maybe even a few here on campus. But if you were like me, the week was nothing more than a reason to tie purple ribbons around trees across campus. I was absent-minded about the events that were occurring on campus and I didn’t think about even looking into it until I saw a Facebook status from one of my friends, “The only coming out I did today was going outside my apartment to get lunch.”
Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to the civil awareness of people with different sexualities other than what society has deemed “normal.” Rainbow Union planned events as part of Coming Out Week here at Drake. On Thursday, students were encouraged to wear purple to demonstrate support for people dealing with accepting themselves as being different and support them to coming out in a society that still has not upheld their liberties and rights as citizens. However, on the same day that we are supposed to be encouraging people to embrace being different, approximately five people struggling with being gay will commit suicide. The statistics get even more shocking when for every one gay person that actually dies from suicide, 100 had attempted it and failed. Homosexuals are four times more likely to attempt suicide versus a regular heterosexual.
So, we could assume that on Oct. 11, 2012, five people struggling with being gay died at their own hand, and 500 people attempted suicide because they couldn’t deal with the struggle of living life while receiving threats, being beaten up or being called names just because they had a different sexuality.
My first year here at Drake can be defined as the best experience of my life. Talk about a total change going from high school to college. I had experienced more than I would have ever imagined. Like actually thinking about myself in a different perspective than how I viewed or conducted myself in high school. First thing that I changed was caring how others saw me, no more did I have to impress the cool kids in class and make sure I didn’t fall into the loser category. At college, there are too many things to think about than just judging people. As I started not caring, I also started to stop hiding who I really was.
“I am gay.” Those were the first three words in a paper written by Ryan Price, a fellow Drake student, for a school assignment. A paper, that was written one year before I had even stepped foot on to this campus. In the Relays Edition of The Times-Delphic my first year, I happened to read an article interviewing senior Ryan Price about how writing the paper for his First-Year Seminar was not an easy ‘A.’ Talk about timing in a person’s life. At this point, I actually started challenging the idea that the only way to be is to be straight.
Did you ever have that English teacher in high school who told you that if you use to word “good” in any of your papers, she would deduct a letter grade from whatever score you got? I did. Good is such a vague word that it describes absolutely nothing. Think about the phrase, “being heterosexual is normal.” Isn’t normal just another word like good? It adds no more justification to the sentence then if it ended in good. Who says it’s normal? Why is it normal? When did people stop liking the idea of being the same?
People look for the definition of normal everywhere except the dictionary, and what a shame that is. The definition isn’t located in the Constitution, but people try to interpret it as they see fit. And when the interpretation isn’t what they like, they want to vote out the person who voted on it. While the Bible seems to be a common go to for many people, it really seems like people only use it as a reference for how others should behave and not their own actions. There are more verses in the Bible about being friendly to thy neighbors or not laying a hand on another person than there are about not lying in the same bed as another man. But, really, if I took the time to debate religion and homosexuality, I would be way over my word count.
The true reason I am writing this paper is not to try to convince the “homophobes” that they need to change their views. I can honestly talk to a wall and get further in a discussion. These points were how I found strength to find out who the real me was. My true purpose is the same as National Coming Out Day: I aim to show that there are people out there who understand the struggle and encourage you to accept yourself for who you are.
I don’t want to copy Ryan’s ending, but it’s a good ending to a story like this. I am gay.