Is College the Right Time to “Come Out”?

Starting college is difficult for everyone. Starting college when you are in the closet is even more of a challenge.

For most of my friends, the process of “coming out” occurred around the end of high school, right before this four-year undergraduate journey began. However, there are a few who didn’t show their rainbow colors until the end of sophomore year. Some still don’t show them at all.

College is an interesting time for LGBT students. On the one hand, we’re exposed to a world that is arguably more open-minded than any high school in the country. They don’t call it “liberal arts” for nothin’—most colleges are quite cavalier and, frankly, don’t give a damn about your sexual orientation.

But then again, some students are coming from families and hometowns that kept them in the closet and threw away the key. The shocking, (mostly—I don’t want to generalize) liberal world of the college campus can be a daunting—and sometimes disbelieving—world. It can feel like Narnia—an impossible dreamland where your love for boys doesn’t matter and is, in many ways, embraced.

As a result, students can be skeptical of this new world and stay in the closet out of fear. There’s no way the world can be this accepting, right? College is just like high school, except with binge drinking and the possibility of no Friday classes.

This is, of course, false…and it takes some people a really long time to see this. I wasted my entire freshman year stuck in the closet out of fear that the University of South Carolina was just like my high school. I missed out on joining my campus’s gay-straight alliance, going out to clubs and dating…especially during the year when the first thing on your to-do list is to have fun.

Two acquaintances have told me they’re gay and still they remain deep in the closet. We’re juniors now. The time of carefree, bill-free and worry-free living is slowly running out. I’d hate to see these guys stay in this stagnant place because I know they will regret it when we enter the “real world.” This is the time to be having the time of our lives.

And I urge you to consider this as well. Of course everyone’s situation and coming out process is different, and do not come out of the closet in college if you are not ready. Rather, just take a look around your campus. More likely than not, you will be pleased with what you see. Cut your uni some slack and check out the “gay scene”. It’s way more mainstream—and accepting—than you might think.

If you are ready, and feel like you have a college campus conducive to you decision, come out and take a sip of the gay college tea. It’s full of new and exciting experiences. You’ve just got to pour yourself a glass—non-alcoholic for those under 21, of course.

However, everyone’s college and situation is different, and I want to hear about yours. How was your college experience as an LGBT student?  When did you choose to come out? Were you happy with your choice or did you regret it? Share your thoughts below.

More Gay on Campus here.