[I wrote my story for the Coming Out Monologues, it was accepted. I don't have a car now so I can't see it being performed but I hope someone in the audience "gets" it. The names of the people have been changed and/or have not be used for privacy reasons]
I went to college and had my own "coming out" as being an ally. It was an eye opening experience. My roommate was openly gay and our Resident Director asked me to room with her because no one else would. I lost friends I had made prior to rooming with her because they didn't think I was a good person anymore because I supported her. I supported her because I felt all people deserve RESPECT and to be treated with decency and love and compassion. Regardless of whether or not they are different from me. And once I became her roommate I realized I had a lot more in common than different. One, she was loud and obnoxious, I am loud and obnoxious, in fact she would tease me that I was her mini-me and that was before Austin Powers!
Here is the whole story as I remember it.
I grew up in a sheltered and routine based household. We learned about whatever was on NPR or KVCR television. We grew up going to mass every single Sunday. I never missed a weekend. EVER. I always did chores every Saturday morning. I couldn’t go out with friends on both Friday and Saturday night, only one night a weekend. Sunday wasn’t consider a weekend day. My foundation was based on familiar territory. I went to public school. I was well liked by all types of kids. I did well in school. I was liked by adults. I generally obeyed what society wanted me to be like. By 6th grade I was pretty well versed by what the world was doing outside my sheltered abode. I was starting to learn about how other things worked: drug dealing, broken families, being poor. I started to only make friends with those who were “down and out”. Those who were teased. Those who cried at recess. Those who didn’t smell that great. Those who wore the same outfit to school all week long. I started to learn from them that my sheltered world wasn’t very familiar to other little kids. I started to get pretty grateful. I started to feel that the world wasn’t fair. I learned about the “F” word in 2nd grade. I knew was SEX was by 4th grade. I felt pretty smart. THEN I WENT TO COLLEGE.
Like many other college campus’ there is that DIRTY BIOLOGY course that most everyone takes to fulfill a breadth requirement. I took it too. And my dorm building mates. We talked about the course in the dorm lounge. Things got heated. Especially when we talked about what my dorm mates called the gay lecture. I remember walking out of that lecture and my good friend saying, “If my kid ever turned out GAY I’d kick them out of the house.” I asked her immediately that if I told her I was gay would she not be my friend anymore, quickly she answered “Yup, I wouldn’t be your friend” I was floored. This wouldn’t be the last time.
Because of my personality I was asked to room with a lot of people that others wouldn’t room with. When I asked why he had placed me with a crazy lady who was 15 years older than me, the resident director flat out told me, “You are the most tolerant person I know, that is why I give you all the residents I can’t place with anyone else.” He didn’t ask me before that placement but he did ask me before placing me with Lucy. It was so controversial for him to place someone with her that he had to ask me if I would do it. WHAT? Why? You wont ask me to live with an alcoholic nymphomaniac with two broken legs but you’ll ask me if I’ll room with an “out dyke” WHAT? I immediately said “YES!”. I mean come on, she has a bad ass sound system and owns a TRUCK! I love trucks and loud music. Maybe she’d let me blast my Metallica? It didn’t even cross my mind what would happen to me when I actually moved in with her after the break.
I basically made all new friends. The friends from North Carolina that I had been hanging out with prior to moving in with Lucy confronted me and said they couldn’t come hang with me anymore because they were afraid Lucy would hit on them. WHAT? The friends refused to even come knock on my door for fear that Lucy would answer. The friends I had been going to mass with didn’t want to give me a ride anymore because they were afraid I’d be turning GAY and didn’t want me to go to church with them if I was. WHAT? How do you turn gay? WHAT?
I got so frustrated. I was angry. I was sad. I was confused. I started to read about what it was like to be GAY. Lucy told me what it was like to be GAY. I told her what it was like to live with someone who is GAY. We commiserated. She was angry. She was sad. She was confused.
I decided that those old friends weren’t worth anything and that I was better off without them. I would rather have friends who would come help me no matter who I lived with or lived next door to or worked for or married or gave birth to or did for a living. I came to realize that me rooming with her was the best thing that happened to me as a college student. I learned that I really do support ANYONE. I started to analyse my thoughts about love and action.
With Lucy I learned that loud music blasted at 8am got people angry but that because a GAY person was doing it they were going to get more upset than normal. Who wouldn’t like SUPERTRAMP!? And the speed metal guy on the other side of the building never got complaints filed against him.
I learned that the petty things I saw in elementary school and junior high still went on with adults. I sat with Lucy in the cafeteria ALONE because no one else wanted to sit with us. I learned that Lucy had a lot of other friends I didn’t know about but they were secretly friends because they weren’t ready to be OUT to the world and they knew that by being seen with Lucy they would be considered GAY. We would go to LA to go clubbing and Lucy would pick them up at the local grocery store so that other people wouldn’t see them going out with us. WHAT? When I hang out with a bunch of guys people don’t consider me a guy. When I hang out with a bunch of goth dressed people others don’t consider me a goth. In high school when I hung out with the “rich” kids others didn’t think of me as rich! WHAT?
From that quarter in college I realized that I would always be an ALLY, not just to my friends who were GAY but to all people, no matter what. Anyone who has struggled. I am there for you. I support you. I respect you.