an open letter.

To my alma mater,

I attended you for four years, and nearly ten years later, I finally have the courage to write. I am writing this to share with you the experiences I had while attending your classes, walking your halls and calling your campus my home. I am writing to be a voice for the many others who cannot or have not spoken. I am writing to share my truth.

You ignored me. During the college years, I went through more than the average student. Instead of worrying about my next paper I had to write or test I had to take, I was worrying about where I would go for the holidays and if my student loans would come through for the next semester. My parents rejected me; pushed me out of their lives, leaving me completely on my own. Instead of supporting me you told me to pray more, that God was trying to teach me a lesson in order to strengthen my faith. What I needed was someone to sit next to me and listen, to walk along side me in my pain, to support and encourage me. Not to avoid me.

You shamed me. Instead of having a discussion or helping me accept who I truly was, you slapped a label on my sexuality and told me I was unacceptable. You made me sign a paper that said I wasn’t allowed to hang out with a dear friend of mine because it might cause unwanted sexual desire and threatened that if I continued to do so, I would no longer be able to attend your school. I ended up shoving something that was such a part of my being so far beneath the surface, that it took years to peel off the layers of shame that had been placed on me.

You taught me. You taught me to hide. You taught me that my faith was weak if I cried, I struggled, or I was angry. You taught me that sex was bad and shameful, you made us put signs on our dorm room doors if we had a significant other over, that we couldn’t be trusted unsupervised. You taught me that I was incapable of making my own adult decisions with rules put in place to keep the blanket of innocence over our eyes. You taught me I had to fit into a box that didn’t welcome individuality or difference, but encouraged conformity.

College years are supposed to be the ones where we discover our individuality and independence, where we take steps into adulthood, supported by friends and professors. But instead I was told I couldn’t be who I was, I was shamed, ignored and threatened with termination of enrollment. You showed me who God wasn’t, the judgment stronger than any form of love.

I have since left your campus, graduating with a degree and baggage. It took a while for me to accept that it was okay to not be okay. I had to learn that God wasn’t teaching me a lesson when I was rejected by my family, and I was finally able to be confident in my sexuality, knowing with certainty that God loves and accepts me regardless.

I can only hope that things have changed; that you’ve stop trying to fit people into a mold so tiny and so rigid, it simply lacks the room to welcome everyone. I hope that you’ve learned to accept different walks of life, having conversation and discussions with others instead of inducing shame and guilt.

With this, I leave you, as a whole and accepted human, apart from anything you’ve taught me.

Sincerely,

Brooke

8 Comments

    1. Thank you, Court. It’s been a long time coming and feels so freeing to be able to speak these words out loud.

  1. Thank you for boldly speaking your truth and sharing, Brooke. I am so sorry for what you had to face during your time in college. I will not respond with phrases like, “I wish I knew, so I could’ve supported you.” I was complicit as an attendee of that university at times, and I am continually striving to do better. Thank you for letting me in by sharing this post and know I stand with you in support and love, so that you may love who you love and be who you desire to be. Love, Kelsey

    1. Thank you for your words, Kelsey. You are so kind. I’ll never forget all our fun PR classes together. Good times. 😉

  2. Brooke, your an amazing women! I have been following your blog since day one. Through it, I have learned so much about family members. I’m still trying to piece things together from a lost time period. I still want answers. Keep up the good work.

  3. That is a truly harrowing read, how they treated you as an outcast and pariah that should be ashamed of who they are. That they forced you into silence and solitude is utterly outrageous and I’m so very sorry you had to endure that during what should have been amazing formative years in your life.

    You are a really exceptional person and you sound in a much better and healthier place now, which makes me glad. You have endured far more than anyone should have for simply being who they are. And the only label you deserve is Brooke is Awesome.

    I know you don’t need it now but if you ever feel alone or feel the need to talk to anyone, then please feel free to contact me. I’m a good listener and its such a little thing that can make a big difference. Take care and carry on being amazing.

    Dan

    1. Dan, thank you so much for this. I’ll take the Brooke is Awesome label anytime 😉

      And right back at ya- I’m here to chat. Thank you again for your words. They fill my heart.

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