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Zachary Mack

Zachary Mack


I had arrived at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, excited and enthused about my new independence and all the good times coming my way. After four torturous years of high school, I was now in my dorm room unpacking. Then my roommate arrived, and what was supposed to be one of the best experiences of my life became a nightmare.

I was wearing my pride bracelets, as always, and I had put a few things on the walls and desk that were important to me and brought out my personality. When he saw them, it was instantly clear that he was shaken by the fact that he was stuck with a gay roommate.

Our relationship never got any better. Over the next few weeks, we could barely stand to be in the dorm room with each other. Our complaints and pleas for a change turned into nothing; the housing administration simply turned a deaf ear to our requests. Soon it was just too much, and I decided it was best to transfer to Austin Community College. I needed to be in a more liberal environment where I could be myself.

It was not fair to him or to me to have our beliefs and sexuality clash day after day. Sure, college is about trying new things, being open to new ideas. But for some people there are lines you can't cross. For the two of us, this was it.

How did I get into this mess? Simple. My college of choice didn't allow me to indicate a preference for a gay roommate. It could prevent a lot of grief if each college added a couple of check boxes to dorm applications: Do you want to disclose your orientation? Do you have a preference regarding the orientation of your roommate? Some people might answer no to both. But many others would welcome the chance to answer those questions.

If you're gay and college-bound, this is one more thing to consider as you decide where to spend four of the most important years of your life. If the school doesn't address the issue as part of the roommate selection process, you need to know that. And if it doesn't, ask why not. The answer can tell you a lot about the school's culture.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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