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.