It’s weird how easy it is to conform without realizing it.
When I noticed I had feelings towards other guys I was in the midst of my grungy, stick-it-to-the-man days. I thought being gay would be the best way I could show how rebellious I was. It was way better than any piercing or hair dye I could get my hands on. The only problem was no one else thought it was as cool. I started to get bullied and, eventually, lost all of my friends. It was then when I realized my sexuality was way more serious than a hole in my face or the color of my hair. I couldn’t change it.
I should note that this all took place during middle school, probably the worst time for 99.9% of the population. I knew things would change, but in the mean time I decided to lie and pretend I was straight for a few years, until everyone cooled off.
Eventually it happened, and by the end of junior year I was open and out, it was even Facebook official. I had boyfriends and talked to teachers about who I thought was cute. It was nice to like who I was.
Then came time for college. When I got accepted to Gordon I knew things were going to be interesting, but I was prepared for whatever people had to throw at me. It wasn’t going to be like middle school where I let others call the shots.
When I moved into Nyland (the “Lax” dorm) my freshmen year I began to worry. Not for myself, but for others. I didn’t want to make my new roommates, or even my entire floor, feel awkward having a gay living next door. So, I took the ‘interested in’ section off Facebook and decided I’d tell my roommates when they asked. The only problem was they never asked. No one did.
Pretty soon the year was over and the only people who I opened up to were my closest friends. I found all my support and comfort in them, and by the end of my sophomore year I realized that still, only a handful of people really knew me.
I had so many “close friends” but none of them realized when I said, “I was interested in her,” I was really talking about him. It became normal for me to talk about a guy as if he were a girl, just to make others feel comfortable.
I don’t blame Gordon, or my roommate, or anyone for me feeling like I had to be straight. I put myself back into the closet. What hurt the most was that there were people who looked to me as a proud, gay man, when in reality I was telling everyone I was straight.
I actually want to thank Gordon. After Justin, Ron, and Father Mario’s Q&A during Sexuality Week I saw how people approached the topic of gay Christians. Those who knew I was gay supported me and made sure I was okay. Those who didn’t know still showed their support. To me, this was God opening my eyes to the wonderful community I have. He showed me that although people may not agree with the concept of homosexuality they would not persecute me, they would not abandon me, and most importantly, they would not think I am unworthy of God’s love.
So I stand, or rather type, here today. I, Jesse Steele, am gay and proud, but most importantly I am still the same guy you met during Orientation. I am still the same guy who plays A Day to Remember when I’m working in Chester’s. I am still the same guy who wants to see this college grow and be fruitful. I don’t want this small facet of myself to change the way anyone looks or treats me. I’ve been bullied and I’ve been ostracized. A church has targeted me and I have lost friends over this. While all this sucks it has made me stronger. It has given me the ability to hold my own.
That being said, I hope no one feels this way. I want people to ask questions. I want people to know they can trust me. I want people to know I love them, and this is why I am sharing this.