Same Love

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exc-58af2a8930454442812b4289

Same Love
Coming out could be one of the most difficult processes a gay teen may face.

Some MHS students who identify themselves as gay or bisexual, however, have been surprised by the acceptance they have experienced from their peers.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines love as a proudly tender, passionate affection for another person. Because every individual has a different concept of what love should look like, the rise in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and/or questioning statuses (LGBTQ) generate controversy across America.

Allison,* a senior, said she has been confused about her sexual orientation for a few years now. While she is beginning to accept herself, she is afraid others will not.

“I’ve known for a while,” Allison said. “But I’m not ready to tell everyone yet.”

Although Allison fears she will not be accepted by some, according to the 2013 census, approximately nine million people in the United States identify themselves LGBTQ.  In Oregon alone, over 145,000 people publicly declare themselves gay.

Freshman Kyra Holmes announced her sexual orientation when she was in seventh grade.

“Coming out was the most terrifying thing I have ever done,” Holmes said. “But I felt completely relieved afterwards.”

Holmes said she believes she was the first person in her class to “come out,” but also takes credit for giving more hesitant LGBTQs an opportunity to express themselves.

“A few people came out shortly after I did,” Holmes said. “I like to think that I helped encourage them to stand up for themselves.”

Marshfield 2013 graduate Zaq Carroll knew he was gay by sixth grade, but did not declare it until his freshman year in high school. Carroll attributes high school to helping him accept himself and his sexuality.

“In eighth grade, I tried to hide,” Carroll said. “I hated myself and tried really hard to change.”

There was a particular situation on a bus ride at the end of eighth grade that pressed Carroll to realize he needed to be honest with himself. Some students were threatening another student about his or her sexuality, and it was at this point in time Carroll decided it was not okay to be ashamed of who he truly was.

While some people do not discriminate against LGBTQ, others have religious concerns. Tiffany,* a senior, is committed to her religious belief that one man and one woman is the only acceptable form of a relationship.

“I believe it’s an illusion of happiness being in a same sex relationship,” Tiffany said. “Everyone can make themselves happy in a heterosexual relationship.”

Tiffany said same sex couples are in a state of confusion and are not aware of the sins that they are committing.

“I know they’re sinning, but I don’t treat them differently because in the end I know they can be forgiven,” Tiffany said.

Though Carroll saw others struggle with peer acceptance, Holmes and Allison said their greatest fear was not about their peers, but about acceptance from their close family members and friends.

“My closest friends know and they don’t treat me any differently,” Allison said.

But despite her friends’ support, Allison fears her parent’s reaction the most. She said it will be better after high school is over because she can be more honest with her family and with herself.

“A lot of people are in the same position as me,” Allison said. “Approval from my parents is important to me and I know they wouldn’t accept me. I don’t think I’ll be able to be public about this until I move out.”

Holmes experienced disapproval when she first told her parents. While her mother is now very supportive of her, Holmes has still experienced rejection from her father.

“My friends all supported me when I told them, but my dad said some very hurtful things to me,” Holmes said. “It wasn’t that he was meaning to reject me; he just didn’t understand.”

Though Holmes faced struggles with her family, she found school to be a place of understanding.

Principal Doug Holland agreed peer acceptance is not usually the problem.

“The students here are much more overt about their sexual status, but everything is perceptional,” Holland said. “I rarely see any disrespect towards them.”

Holmes said she believes Marshfield is an exception to stereotypical sexual discrimination.

“It’s not like on TV where you see kids beat to a pulp for their sexuality,” Holmes said. “At least, Coos Bay’s not like that. I’ve heard comments here and there, but it’s not an issue at all.”

Having support from the community helped Holmes to accept her sexuality.

“Being gay strongly affects your life,” Holmes said. “But it’s so freeing to finally accept yourself publicly.”