A path to self-discovery: Finding acceptance, coming to terms with sexuality

Editors’ Note: Names have been changed in this story to protect the sources’ identities.

On a typical morning, Alan J. would step out of his mom’s SUV and wave goodbye to her. He slowly walked towards the doors at the side entrances of the building, and headed into the bathroom. He would unzip his bulging backpack, revealing a set of clothes different in color and style from the baggy shirt and jeans he was already wearing. It was the brighter, more fitting clothing that made Junes feel comfortable – more like himself. Before he left school for the afternoon, he would change back into his dark baggy clothes and put on a persona that his parents would accept. He did not want them to wonder if he were different.

“I first found out that I was bisexual in middle school,” Alan, now a senior, said. “I mean, I always knew I was different, but I thought my sexuality was a phase. The society I was in didn’t like homosexuals, so I tried to change who I was, but I couldn’t.”

At school, Alan felt he could be more open about his sexuality, even while concealing it at home. He began the clothing change freshman year.

“I would have two sets of clothes – the ones I would be comfortable wearing at school, and the ones I’d wear before I set out for home, so my parents wouldn’t suspect anything about my sexuality.”

Senior Phillip T. also talks about his dual personality – the one he has at school where he can be himself, and the personality he has at home.

“I usually hide who I really am from my family, simply because of how I was raised,” Phillip said.

Students like Alan and Phillip say they take steps to hide their sexual identity in order to avoid rejection.

“I hate it when people pretend to be gay just because it’s a new trend or something,” Phillip said. “A lot of us are going through enough trying to fit in our own skin. The label of who we are doesn’t need to be used as a way to gain popularity.”

Senior Janis M. agrees.

“Nobody chooses to be discriminated against,” she said. “You are who you are.”

Janis discovered she had feelings for the same sex in middle school.

“I suppressed it until fifth grade, but I’ve always liked girls,” she said.

Junior Timothy R. shares the same feelings.

“I was different my entire life,” he said. “I grew up where being different was wrong, and I didn’t realize my homosexuality until middle school.”

Janis and Alan say they haven’t experienced many problems with other students since they became open about their sexuality.

“It’s been pretty okay at Kerr,” Janis said. “I’ve never had a hate issue. The reason why kids rejected my sexuality during intermediate school was probably because they were just childish.”

After finding acceptance among friends, they started the next (and probably hardest) step – coming out to their parents.

“My family grew up frowning upon homosexuality,” Phillip said. “If I came out to them, I would be ignored, disowned, and kicked out. I don’t think I plan on ever telling them, even when I’m older.”

Alan  agrees.

“My cousin already knows about my sexuality, but my parents don’t,” he said. “If I told them, I’m sure my mom might support me, but my dad would definitely be disappointed and reject me.”

Meanwhile, Timothy and Janis have already told their parents, though with different reactions and results.

“My parents rejected me at first,” Timothy said. “But I know that was only because they didn’t want me to be hurt. Many jobs and careers out there don’t hire people because of their sexual preferences, and my parents didn’t want me to be left out. But, with time, they began to accept me for who I am.”

When Janis told her parents, the exact opposite happened.

“They tried to accept it for a day, but the next morning, it was as if they completely rejected my sexuality,” she said. “My mom sort of accepted it, but there was a time when my dad stopped talking to me for months. I couldn’t have certain body piercings or wear certain jewelry or clothing, because my parents were afraid that it was a ‘gay’ thing.”

However, Janis plans on coming out again to her parents at a later point in time.

“Later, when I’ve grown up and they don’t accept it, I’ll be on my own,” Janis said. “I know they love me, though, so it’s okay.”

Regardless of parents’ reactions, the students continue to move on, embracing who they are.

“I don’t feel relieved because my parents don’t know,” Alan said. “However, I accept the way I am, and I’m happy.”