Life in the closet


An anonymous personal essay about life as an LGBT+ student.

by Anonymous

Like many in the LGBT community, I grew up in a conservative and religious household. I attended church, participated in my congregation, and did my best to honor my parents. I grew up with a blind faith in Christianity and accepted the words without thoughtful reflection. I grew up learning that marriage was sacred – between a man and a woman – and that homosexuality was unnatural and a clear damnation to God’s gift of marriage. I accepted the words without truly believing them and judged those that did not fit my “beliefs.”

As I attended middle school, I found that I felt same sex attraction. My first reaction was denial and adamant repression of such emotions. I convinced myself it was a “phase,” and tried to act as if everything was as usual. I believed it to be just my imagination and that nothing was wrong. I said I liked certain girls – which was a blatant lie – in order to avoid any suspicion and fit into the crowd. During this time of repression, I was extremely shy and quiet, indicative of my attempt to hide my true identity.

Fast forward to my freshman year of high school, I had my first real crush. At this point, I had not told anyone of my sexual orientation, my reason being a fear of mockery and ostracization. My main fear was familial persecution as well as parental abandonment. I felt isolated in my feelings, as though I was on a stranded island incapable of asking for rescue. I was so scared to even tell my best friend. I was scared of losing a friend and my cloak of security. I came to realize that it was not a cloak of security but chains of biblical shame that shackled me to an untested and baseless faith. I do not consider myself to be a staunch believer of the faith; I do however don’t deny the presence of a higher power. I believe that to a great extent, my Christian upbringing has made my path more tumultuous and trying. In fact, at a summer retreat for church, I told a trusted church counselor my secret. Expecting friendship and acceptance, I was received with a lecture of my wrongs. The most damning statement was that “you are struggling with homosexual tendencies.” I was then in conference with someone who “struggled with homosexuality” and was learning to become “straight.” I found this as an extremely disrespectful and saddening scene. After  telling the counselor, I had him swear to secrecy to not tell my parents or my siblings.

Confused, tired, and fed up with hiding, I decided that I needed to tell a friend, to release all of my emotional suppression to someone. The response I got from my first friend was, “I already knew.” What a contradiction to my suspected reactions. I felt a weight had been lifted off my chest. As we talked, my friend gave me the encouragement to tell another friend. Their response was, “It’s not that hard to tell.”At present, I find myself saying, “WOW! You are possibly the most gayest human in the world,” and now I understand what they meant. I’m sure someone is this “gayest person,” but I like to believe I am that person. I found an appreciation for my sexual orientation and the special traits that I brought.

After telling my friends, I felt validation, acceptance and safety, something so rare in the past months. My friends encouraged me to come out to my parents. I told them over and over that I just couldn’t. Though I have come out to my friends and don’t try to hide it from school peers, another story arises around my church and family.

Why is it so hard to come out? The reason is that there is such an overwhelming fear of the possible retribution. My mind plays the scenario in which my parents disown and kick me out. Think that only happens in TV shows, I’ve heard Asian horror stories. If not to that extreme, how would they restrict me or punish me, if I was to be allowed to stay at home. Would my access to social media be stripped? Would I only be allowed to attend school and do nothing else? At any moment of the time I spend with my parents, I fear my secret being unveiled. Fear of exposure is greater than my fear of death. Because in my head, they are the same. Those with strict parents will understand the feeling when they’re being called by their parents. Every single thing you have ever done in your life, whether good or bad, runs through your mind. In my case, I always fear that they have found out and it was my time to be shipped away.

To this day, I avoid my mother and cringe at her attempts to get closer to me. Not because I hate her, in fact, I love her with nearly every fiber of my being. I have on a grim thought, that if she were to die, I might die also, due to heartbreak. I have distanced myself because I fear that I will slip up and say something too revealing, too suggestive. How has such an environment of hatred toward the LGBT community cultivated, to the point in which teenagers have to struggle to this extent.

I find it so infuriating that the Christian faith is able to brainwash their congregation with derogatory and degrading rhetoric toward the LGBT community without any moral reflection of their hurtful actions. In addition, to almost take a precedent in legal decisions and ethical decision making. No religion should reign supreme to the point of infiltrating politics and swaying policies in a degrading and dehumanizing manner. Rather than inward and personal reflection, homophobic parts of the Christian community would rather spend their time condemning others of innocent nature, whilst harboring hatred and malice.

At times, I have thought of suicide, running away, or just never telling my parents. At every interaction with my parents, I have this pressure to tell them. However, I am so fearful of their reaction that it paralyzes me in fear and anxiety.

The reason that I write in secrecy is not because I fear persecution from my peers at school. I have found that Springbrook is an accepting environment, where I can express myself in all my fabulousness and multidimensional “fruitiness.” No, I write under a pseudonym because I fear the repercussions from my family. I hide my true identity to the extent of blocking my siblings from my social media. Primarily, because I post very gay-themed content that would surely give me away.

Whether, you are gay, straight, bi, or transgender, my only message to you is that I feel for you. I hope one day, that I will come out to my parents and be able to openly express myself.