If this were a normal occurrence, I would prelude this with, "I'm sorry, but... "
But not anymore. I need to get this out of my system. I need to finally get rid of this. I am a 22-year-old gay guy at a Christian college and I am tired of hiding.
I am fed up with the worry, angst, and fear about what other "Christians" are going to think. I am sick of the judgmental glares that come my way when I walk through the halls. I am tired of thinking in a worrisome manner about what the next words should be that come out of my mouth because I don't want the "people of God" to think that I am some kind of grotesque being.
Who are you?
The guys who think I am looking at them in a flirtatious manner do not give me the time of day to be a friend. They have already decided that I am checking them out and wanting more. Don't flatter yourself.
They just look real quick to see if "that's a real 'one.'" Then, once they see me turn my head toward them, they quickly snap away and give this condescending attitude.
I don't think they get it, and I don't think my friends understand either. I am lonely. I am hurting. I am being mistreated indirectly. Yes, I am at a Christian university, and I know the college holds onto certain beliefs and traditions, but aren't there supposed to be Christians here? Didn't Christ say to love ... unconditionally? Why do I have to be left outside when everyone else is being brought in? Why do I have to hide who I am when everyone else is able to stand out?
I'm not sorry anymore. I'm not sorry for having these feelings. The emotions are real. It makes me wonder whether I am alone here.
In fact, I know that I am not alone. I know there are others out there who are dealing with these anxious feelings. If I can say anything to bring change in the world I want it to be this:
I am who I am, and you are who you are. We are different. We are unique. But we are people. People who love and feel. Believe it or not, we are people who can have faith just as strong as yours, if not stronger.
If you are a person who judges people based on their sexual orientation, then I am just letting you know that you need a better hobby. Check the growth of your faith before you trample on the blossoming faith of others.
I'm not sorry anymore. I am who I am.
SHAUN MELADY is a student at Harding University. Follow him on Twitter @ShaunMelady