RT, in his own words: “Being queer is still in question for me. I know I am queer just because I am attracted to male and female-bodied folks, but giving myself a title is not a point where I am at in life. I do consider myself still questioning, but apart of the queer community. Defining queer for myself is still a work in process and I am not exactly sure if I will ever be able to define it since I feel like I am always changing in that regard.
One of the main challenges I am going through now is coming out. I am currently attending Oberlin College, a really progressive liberal arts college where I am not afraid to be queer. At the same time, though, my family and friends back home in Chicago are still people that I am not too comfortable coming out to just yet, but it is definitely a work in process that I contribute to my successes because I have been in denial for most of my life and being able to just say I’m different and that I’m queer publicly (to an extent) is a success for me.
The gay community at Oberlin is definitely huge. There’s saying that often floats around that goes “What do you call a first year, first semester student? Straight.” and “Gay until proven straight.” Being queer is definitely not out of the norm at Oberlin and although it can feel widespread and segregated at times, it is still a tight-knit community that does support queer rights. There are a lot of spaces on campus that are dedicated to our community, like having safe space for womyn and trans* identifying people as well as safe spaces for queer people of color.
My coming out story is still in progress. It’s definitely frightening and something that worries me all the time. I was able to start coming out this year and have been doing so on campus since I do feel safer here with my own identity than anywhere else in the world. I am still afraid to come out to my parents and family and I don’t necessarily know if that’s something I intend to do in the near future, but it takes time and maybe one day I will be comfortable enough with it. I know that no matter what, my family would still love me, but there’s still something that stops me and prevents me from doing it. How I imagine coming out of the closet is really being inside a huge walk-in style closet and that I’m starting to take steps out of, slowly peaking my head through the door, but still having that cover for myself to sneak back into if I needed. Up to this point, every person that I have come out to has been extremely supportive of me and my decisions and have made it easier for me to come out to others. I am also getting to that point in my own level of comfortability to just be queer to new people I meet and not try to put on a “straight” facade (that probably isn’t fooling anyone!). All I can really say is that it’s starting to happen to a certain extent, but at the same time, I also don’t really care if people know. I don’t see why it is something that people need to know because at the end of the day I am not changing for anyone and if you’re going hate me for my life choices, go ahead because I’m not changing for anyone.
I would tell my younger self to try to be okay with it. Only until after seeing The Gay Men Project did I start to form a comfortability with myself, not yet coming out, but coming to terms with my own reality. And that may be really cliché to say, but it’s true. If I knew a gay man that I trusted growing up who told me that it was okay and that I would still be able to live my life normally and happily, I would have probably come out sooner, but it didn’t happen and that’s still okay because I am at that point in my life where I am happy with who I am and making choices that benefit me.”