Coming out process smooth for many teens

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in every state in the country.

Within each state there are many different political views, some more liberal, some more conservative, and some in between. However, just because every state now has legal gay marriage, it does not mean that everyone supports it.

All students deal with emotional stress and drama at some point throughout their high school career.

However, experiencing dissociation as an LGBTQ student can lower self-esteem, induce anxiety, and raise stress levels.

The fear of not being accepted makes coming out of the closet at first seem nearly impossible, especially if you don’t know any friends, family, or acquaintances in the LGBTQ community.

Many deem ARHS a place that advocates for all different genders, races, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and more.

To find out if the school was as accepting and supportive as its reputation holds, I interviewed several out-of-the-closet individuals at ARHS.

Freshman Miguel Cruz said he identifies as gay and that his sexuality “has never changed.”

“I started publicly identifying as gay the summer before freshman year,” he said.

Cruz said he is out “to everyone” and that when he came out, he emotionally felt “happy and relieved” that he did not have to keep that part of him “a secret anymore.”

“One night I just went into my mom’s room, I sat down and I came out to her. At first she needed time to process it, but afterwards she told me that I am her son and she won’t love me any less for being gay,” he said.

Cruz was not worried about his safety, but he was well aware of “the lack of acceptance for the LGBTQ community in other parts of the country and world.”

Cruz said he feels very accepted by his family, friends, and teachers.

“For the most part I have not been bullied, but there has been occasional gossip,” he said. “I feel like ARHS is a safe and accepting school because they make the LGBTQ people feel included and loved.”

Senior Ian Kaye also had a positive coming-out experience. Kaye pleasantly described himself as “super gay.”

“Originally, when I came out I said I was bisexual, because saying I was gay seemed like too big a leap,” he said. “That only really lasted a few weeks until I was like, ‘No, I’m totally gay and don’t [feel attracted to] girls at all.’”

He realized that he liked guys the night before his bar mitzvah. “It [was difficult] because it was an emotionally charged time anyway, and then realizing I was gay just added to the drama.”

For Kaye, coming out was way easier than he thought it would be.

“I don’t know why I was so nervous, because my brother had already come out years before and people had thought I was gay my whole life,” he said.

He remembers first telling his mom. “I was so nervous,” he said, “but she [wasn’t fazed at all] and asked me who I had a crush on.”

Kaye was most nervous about telling his dad.

“We were getting falafels and I kept putting it off and not telling him until we had walked out of the restaurant and got in the car. I was so nervous the whole meal and was acting really jumpy,” he said, “but it turned out to be great.”

Kaye emphasized that he “had the privilege to not feel as nervous as someone who was unsure of how people would react.”

Since his brother had paved the way, he said it really wasn’t scary.

And his friends?

“My friends were the best. I remember I told them at the mall and they were so excited and happy for me and bought me socks,” he said.

Kaye said he has definitely had people be pretty homophobic, but it has been rare.

“The example I remember the most is when I was sort of forced to out myself to a girl in France on the exchange,” he said.

He added, “She told me to my face that it was wrong that I was gay, and that her friend told her that she liked girls and then she never spoke to her again.”

Though Kaye admitted that it was “pretty anxiety inducing” to be in that situation in a foreign country, he said, “in the end, everything turned out great and everyone else was super accepting and lovely.”

In Kaye’s experience, Amherst schools have been a relatively great place to come out.

“It’s undeniable that it’s much easier to come out in this community than if I lived in rural Tennessee or Mississippi,” he said.

Despite the fact that many LGBTQ students cite Amherst as a safe haven, others have struggled with their family’s reaction here.

“Coming out has been interesting. With my friends I’ve always felt accepted. When I came out to my parents, I feel like it was very messy,” said an anonymous bisexual senior.

The student said that she was never worried about her safety but there’s always a fear of not being accepted.

This fear gradually went away as the student started to come out to more peers. “[Students are] really accepting here so it is alright,” said the student.

“All my friends are super good about it; many of them I’ve found are also queer,” she added.

Despite that, she said that even though our school is accepting, there are still some cases in which she’d rather be a straight student than a gay student, “largely because it seems safer and easier.”

All in all, I learned that students across all grades, of different ages, races, and sexualities, like me, found ARHS to be a genuinely accepting place.