Remember just a few months ago when we had to wear masks and we could not reveal our authentic selves. How did that make you feel? This is my story about how I had to wear a social mask for many years and how I was able to finally take it off. The first time I felt that I had to wear a social mask was in 8th grade. I was going to a Christian school and during this time in my life my feelings and attractions started to change. I started to feel more attracted to men than women. And, like most other kids at that age, I went to my friends and peers to talk about the changes happening in my life. About a week later after I had told my friends, I was called into the superintendent’s office to talk about the things I had been sharing with other students. After I was talked to by the superintendent. I was left feeling the need to conform, hide, or lie to myself and those around me. I continued to wear the mask and not share my true self for most of high school. Due to this, I was emotionally frustrated because I could not be myself. This caused me to lash out at times, I was also being bullied and teased for by peers. I made the decision to leave the school I was attending and go to Ridgewater College. I chose Ridgewater college PSEO because I wanted to get out of the High School setting. When I came to Ridgewater and started attending in-person classes, I was introduced to new people and ideas that made me feel accepted and heard. So, I felt that while I was there, I could take off my mask. Being at Ridgewater makes me feel like I am loved, accepted, and more free. On December 6, 2021, I finally took the mask off. While not everyone in my life has been supportive and accepting of who I am, I’ve been able to meet so many who care about me and want me to be my authentic self.
The support that I have received inspired me to give that same feeling to others, this is why I decided to revive the GSA here at Ridgewater. I also wanted to make more friends in the LGBTQ+ community. With being the president of the club, I plan on providing a safe place for the Ridgewater LGBTQ+ community to meet and to educate the College and the community on how to be respectful to the community and also I plan on having some fun events to support my plan.
Even though my life is still a struggle, I have flourished and have started to become my authentic self. I started the Gay-Straight Alliance GSA club here at Ridgewater and I am very open about my sexuality. I learned that I have to be myself and I will never wear a social mask again.