Honestly, whoever came up with Coming Out Week should be a saint. If we had this when I “came out,” the Mentor High School suicides probably could’ve been prevented.
In recent news, Mentor High School is being pinpointed nationwide for having such a lax policy on taking action against bullying. As an alumna of MHS myself, I have no problem throwing my alma mater under the bus as I openly support and agree with the media’s accusations. I’m not saying that my coming-out experience was harsh enough to drive me to seriously consider suicide, like my peers. It was, however, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Even as a bisexual, I too, went through the icy stares and degrading whispers that resonated throughout the halls day after day. All I’m saying is that Mentor High was generally anything but a welcoming environment for the LGBT community.
Funny thing is, I was pretty popular before my school thought I was a lesbian. I never really came out of the closet; I was pushed. My (apparently) not-so-secret relationship with another girl was exposed to Adam, a significant ex-boyfriend of mine, and he did a great job at spreading the truths and rumors like wildfire. This is where it gets tricky: I still couldn’t admit to myself that I was bisexual, so I spent my junior year combating the rumors and holding to my defensive shield.
All in all, it really sucked. I remember a boy in my chemistry class (whom I dated for a month) constantly talking about me or staring at me as if I was toxic. I remember walking down the halls and seeing Adam, instantly feeling my confidence crumble beneath me. I remember the first time I’d heard that I was an expert strap-on user (that was a fun rumor) and the moment I learned I only had two friends. I recall loneliness so deep and vast, I was afraid to make eye contact in the hallways for fear of rejection or even a hate crime. I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t understand where the suicide victims were coming from.
It was a rough ride, but now I’m more confident and open than ever. So, you closet cases that are still out there: Don’t be afraid. Embrace Coming Out Week and be proud of who you are.