Coming Out In Class

05 February 2010
Last Wednesday in my Sociology of Gender class we were talking about victimization of the GLBT community. We started off by talking about the different sociological theories of why the GLBT community is victimized and it was a good discussion. Then it started to get into some iffy ground such as how men choose to be gay and women to be a lesbian, that people telling them they were gay throughout childhood and high school caused them to believe they were gay, etc. People were saying these things I was either going to say something or walk out of class. I have a TA that I knew for sure was gay and is married in a MOM. He got up and came out to everyone. I didn't expect this to happen, but I guess he and the professor had planned this. They knew where the discussion was going to head because it has gone that way many times before. He started talking about doctrine of the Church concerning gay and lesbian individuals and people were not responding very aptly to it. He also talked about how most gay and lesbian people leave the Church and how they have the highest suicide rate. It seemed like the class wasn't understanding the whole topic, so I chimed in.

I raised my hand, was subsequently called on, and told the whole class that I am gay. I told them of my struggles going up with accepting myself and wanting God to take away my gayness because I was a sinner. I talked about the many nights I would plead to God with tears, along with my many sleepless nights. I mentioned when I finally came to terms with everything, I became happy and that I was allowed to become the true me, instead of hiding. I decided to start talking about how I struggled with the Church my whole life and how I still struggle with it, but even more since Prop. 8. I talked of how I didn't like going to Priesthood or Sunday School because of the hurtful things people said. I told them that I still don't go because of it. I also told them how hurtful and wrong it was to treat people the way most Mormons do because they are gay or lesbian. I told them that Mormons needed to be more Christ-like and accepting of everyone. During the time I was getting some weird and disgusting looks, whereas others were giving me looks of acceptance and partial understanding. It was interesting to see how the lines divided between the class and I could see it in their faces.

After class, some people came up and talked to me. They thanked me for sharing my experiences and opening their eyes. Others talked about how I shouldn't judge what people say because the Church is true and perfect, whereas the people of the Church are not and other topics like that. Some also came up and thanked me for what I said and that they were glad that there was an arena where they could finally hear from some and discuss the taboo topic of being gay. I also got this email from W in the class:
I just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you for what you did today in class. This has been one of the most profound classes thus far for me in my college career. I took a lot of guts to admit that you were gay today in class and even more to admit the hard times you are having with those around you. I find it particularly disgraceful how you were treated in church, and am sorry you have had to and continue to endure things like that. Your faith to me is outstanding and you are an example for all those around you.

I have a friend who is struggling with his self identity right now and I think he would be interested in sitting down and talking with you. As you probably know it’s not something he is just going to come out and talk to anyone about, but he has been looking for some to talk to who understand the importance of confidentiality. If you would not be opposed to this I will give him the option.

I would also like to let you know that should you ever need a friend, or simply a person to hang out with after church or school some time I would be more than willing to be your friend. I think you will find that I am a little more open minded than most people that live in Utah.

I know that this email may seem strange and if you’re really freaked out by it than just ignore it and move on. Never-the- less, again I would like to say thank you for what you did today, and I admire you for the strong person you are.

Overall, I think it was a good, adventurous time. I wrote W an email back and described how I felt like I didn't have much faith in the Church and how we should meet up for lunch sometime to discuss the topic more, if we wanted to. I also told him that I would be more than happy to talk to his friend. He responded that I believe in God and Jesus Christ and that is all that matters. He also wants to go out for lunch sometime. We'll see how it turns out, at least now I have a friend in the class. It was also nice to know that not everybody thought I was a weirdo and that people are actually accepting of me.


Scott said...

I've heard about this class from others who were there (and I'm also friends with the married TA who came out). I appreciate having another perspective, and I've got a ton of admiration for the courage it would have taken to stand up and come out in the face of so many negative comments.

I'm glad for the positive impact that this class had, and sad for those who were still unable to see past their prejudice.

I know for a fact (because I've talked to one of them) that there were other gay guys in the class who are closer to being able to completely accept themselves because of what you and the TA said. You did a great thing.

boskers said...

I wish I could have heard you speak and seen the faces of the students. I truly admire your courage. Thank you for sharing the experience on your blog.

Kengo Biddles said...

I've had the hardest time being around my extended family and in-laws for that very reason - and, thankfully, the subject hasn't come up to any real extent, but if it did, I'd be like your TA - it's ridiculous, but I'm glad you did it, and I'm glad the TA did.

Bravone said...

Great job Sean. This type of discussion will gradually tear down walls. Thank you.

Ned said...

Way to go, Sean. I agree with what others have said. It is through the courage of your standing and speaking the truth, and of others who will also do this, that the world will become a better place for everyone.

Kurt said...

Go Sean, Go!!!!

Mister Curie said...

Good job! That really took courage!

cj said...

This post made me happy.

I wish you could have been there for the Multicultural America class, which is just before Sociology of Gender, where my wife and I present on being gay in the church for the whole class. It is an amazing experience and we talk about everything that people are curious about.

I have concluded that we need to speak out more. Some will still be disgusted, but overall people will finally begin to understand.

Beck said...

Finally catching up... this is WAY COOL!

Justin said...

Just found your blog. This is amazing--thanks for your courage!