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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » Coming out in college?

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Author Topic: Coming out in college?
Djuna
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So I moved to Oregon a week ago, and I realised today that actually I wasn't out at college yet. I'm not sure what's up with that.

I ended up going to see some theater today with a some new friends, one of whom it turned out was bi, and then once I found that out I felt like I could tell her, but I was still stuttering all over the place. I feel silly. I haven't told my roommate and I don't know why I don't want to. It was never going to be the very first thing I said, but at this point it feels a little weird. I'm very aware that I've avoided the subject.

And now I feel like I want to tell my parents. I've never allowed them a chance to be supportive about things like this, but I don't know if it's okay to tell them over skype or send them an email. Is that too impersonal?

The theater I went to see had a couple monologues from gay students in it, and I guess I feel a little more at home on campus, but I can't shake this feeling that when I come out I'm othering myself, and by not coming out I'm holding back.

Ugh. What a big, big step back. I feel about six years old.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Heather
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You're not six: when and if people come out is very individual, based on everyone's individual circumstances. It's not a mark of maturity or immaturity.

I think it might be best to deal with these things separately. Coming out to friends at school and coming out to your folks are two pretty radically different situations.

It can also be tough to try and come out to everyone all at once, rather than doing this one person or community at a time.

If that sounds workable, is there someone or some place you'd like to start with first?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Djuna
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Well: I think it would help to have established myself a little more of a support network here before coming out to my parents. But I may just be stalling.

I guess coming out specifically to my roommate isn't exactly time-sensitive; I wonder if he'll assume I felt I couldn't tell him. I get the impression he'd be pretty receptive to it, but it hasn't really come up yet is all. I really don't know why I feel so uncomfortable about telling him - but then, I've never had a roommate, as in same room, before.

We are required by our halls to draw up a roommate contract, too (it's like a form you both fill out and then meet up and discuss, with sleep times, how much notice you want or not for guests, etc). I've sort of mentioned a couple times we should do that, and he's been difficult to pin down to a good time to do it. To be fair, he's in the football team, which is new this year, and his coach is working him all day - he doesn't get really any free time, and he's tired when he gets in. I think discussing that contract would be a good time to bring up my sexuality, but I don't want to feel like I'm nagging him to sit down and do it.

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Heather
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It sounds to me like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself here. In my book, we come out when the opportunity is there in which we feel ready and safe to do so. If that hasn't happened yet for you, it hasn't, and it's hardly your fault, you know?

Is your roomie someone you feel safe coming out to?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Djuna
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Ok, I think I see what you mean. Maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself.

I ended up having the conversation with my roommate about what our ground rules will be - we agreed on just about everything. But one thing was a friend had recommended to me that we agreed on a symbol outside the door for if there's sex etc. going on inside (like a tie on the doorknob, but something non-obvious). We agreed on a playing card (when it's flipped around to show the five of hearts, it means do not disturb), but for some reason when I suggested it I heard myself describing it solely to do with "if one of us has a girl in the room". So I not only avoided my own issue, I made an assumption about his sexuality too, and if hypothetically he were gay I'd have made him feel pretty uncomfortable.

I do feel OK about the idea of coming out to him - that is to say, I don't feel he'd be at all phased by that - but all I'm worried about is there being any awkwardness when we're at close quarters.

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Heather
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I don't mean to second-guess you, but based on your reaction, it's sounding to me like you really don't feel comfortable coming out to this person.

Maybe you want to choose someone first that you don't live with, since that sounds like a big part of your discomfort?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Djuna
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I have talked about it to a few of my friends - juniors like me and seniors, people I don't live with but hang out with a lot. So I'm less worried about having someone to talk to now, but I still haven't told anyone in my residence halls.

This might sound stupid, but I kind of feel like I'm being a little unfair to my roommate - I agree I probably feel uncomfortable talking about this with him, but that's not because of anything he's done particularly. I'm not sure that he's given me any reason not to feel comfortable, he hasn't done anything to deserve my feeling like I can't talk to him. I'm wondering if feeling like that is a little neurotic on my part.

I think I'm probably wrong, but I could use some support. I really appreciate you helping me out, it feels like we've been over this before and I'm not sure why I'm back to being closeted.

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