By Guy Schuyler
Hello! It has been a while since I posted, and so much has changed. These past five months of my life have been some of the most challenging and rewarding months my young adult self has yet to endure. I have learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about other people. I cried a lot. Sometimes for very specific reasons and other times for no reason at all. I smiled a lot, too. I moved into my very first big boy apartment where, for the first time in three and a half years, I was truly alone. I was able to dissect, question, and reevaluate my beliefs. I was able to be myself.
Here it is – I’m gay.
This is the most honest I have ever been with myself and I wanted to take the time to write how I was able to finally accept myself. My “coming out” story, if you will. I am writing this for two reasons: the first, because it is therapeutic for me, and secondly, I want anyone reading who may have a similar story or be in a similar situation to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that it does in fact get better.
I guess it is something I’ve always known. In third grade I was attending John Glenn Elementary in San Antonio. I remember this day very well because it was the first time I ever felt I had to be someone I didn’t want to be just to be accepted. It was a cool spring afternoon and my class was at recess (can we please bring recess back?). I was with most of the other boys at the monkey bars. They were all talking about how much they “liked” a girl in our class names Sarah. I was confused because I didn’t know what it meant to “like” someone. One of the boys explained what it meant to “like” someone and now with the definition in hand, I confidently expressed that I may “like” a boy in the other class named Ethan.
The faces of all the boys told me that I just had said something that was not okay. Blood rushed to my pale cheeks and in horrifying unison they all began to laugh at me. One of them, known for saying all the bad words, called me a f***** and pushed his shoulder into my chest as he walked by. Just like that, I was excommunicated from the rest of the boys. I spent the rest of elementary, middle, and high school being better friends with girls. They smelled nice and could hold a conversation, so I didn’t mind it all that much. I hid my attractions from everyone and quickly began to hate myself for not being “normal”. I tried so hard to be anything other than myself that I forgot who I was.
My freshman year of high school I became heavily involved in a youth group at a local church in my hometown. The community felt authentic and it wasn’t long before I “accepted Christ into my life”. Youth group was a positive social outlet that I, a closeted extrovert searching for acceptance, long desired. I made a lot of friends. I raised my hands at the front. I was heavily involved in Fine Arts – a competition for the youth to use their talents for ministry. I read my bible. I listened to the sermons. I tried to be a good person. I invited people to church.
I cried. I laughed. I was confused.
I prayed every night that god would take away my attractions. I prayed that he would make me normal. I prayed that I wouldn’t be sent to hell. Not only did I have to be “normal” but now I had the fear of being rejected and sent to eternal damnation by god for something I felt I had absolutely no control over.
I prayed to be anything but gay.
I prayed that prayer for six years.
Every. Single. Night.
I never felt anything different, but I became really good at pretending. Fast forward to the end of my senior year of high school and I am deciding where I should go to college. Even though UTSA had offered me a full ride, I did not accept it because I wanted to get out of San Antonio.
A small Assemblies of God school called SAGU was consistently present at youth events and knowing a few people who had attended, I decided this would be the school for me. It was the perfect distance from home, close to a new and exciting city, and being a Christian university, I thought maybe this is where god would take away my attractions and make me normal like he wanted me to be. Two weeks before I moved in for my freshman year I won National Fine Arts and was given a $16,000 scholarship. It all seemed to just fall into place. I really felt like I was following god’s plan for my life.
Before I go into this (very recent) part of the story, I’d like to disclose that for the most part I enjoyed my time at Southwestern. I met so many amazing people (some who will be in my life indefinitely), I served as a Resident Assistant for two and a half years, gained many valuable experiences and learned a lot about myself. The whole time I kept my secret and continued to pray my prayer every night. Sadly, I was forced out the door at the end of my seventh semester and my entire experience now has a bitter undertone.
Halfway through the summer before my senior year, in a bedroom with a pillow full of tears and snot, I came out to myself. That summer I was working at a church to fulfill my internship requirements for my degree while also taking 9 hours of online classes. I was under a lot of stress. Not only because of the classes and expectations on me, but also because for the first time I realized that the person I had molded for so many years was not the person I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be in ministry. I didn’t want to lie to everyone around me. I didn’t want to pretend to be someone I wasn’t anymore. I didn’t want to sit back and watch all my friends get married while I sat back and continued to beg god to change me. The scariest part of this self-declaration was I was about to head back to an environment that was not accepting.
But, I had to get my degree. I had to finish. I was the first one in my immediate family to go to college. I had beat the odds. I had come so far. I only had 21 hours left. I had a good leadership position. Maybe it was selfish of me, but transferring out would have at least put another year of school and loans on my plate. I could keep pretending, right? I had to finish strong.
I have no idea how, who, what, or when the school was notified of my “struggle with homosexuality”, but on November 27th I was called into my resident director and boss’ apartment and flat out questioned about it. It was humiliating. I never was a good liar when confronted, so through a hot face and salty tears I admitted to the allegations raised against me. Suddenly, I realized I was a defenseless man surrounded by lions ready to pounce. This happened in the last two weeks of the hardest semester of my college career thus far. After that confrontation, I couldn’t sleep. I felt out of place. I couldn’t concentrate on my homework. A month prior I was standing on the football stadium as a Homecoming King nominee and now I was public enemy number one. As an RA, I knew what the school was capable of doing. Fearing the worst, the next day I called my grandmother. Through tears I came out to her over the phone and told her what had just happened. Being the supportive and loving granny that she has always been, she told me how much she loved me. She told me she was proud of me and told me to stop communicating with the school and that she would be contacting lawyers for advice.
My grandma is a freaking boss and I heeded her advice.
It took five days before I could meet with the Dean of Students. In the meeting, I told the dean what I was advised to do and did not answer any more incriminating questions. The dean of students notified me that I was being fired from my position as a Head Resident Assistant. I asked if I could finish my remaining 9 hours from home since taking a loan out to live at the university that just discriminated against me did not sound like a good plan. The dean said that it would be fine and that I might be required to go to counseling. That was fine. As long I was going to be able to graduate. I worked too hard to not.
I finished my last two weeks on campus as strong as I could. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I had to wake up every morning and put on my best fake smile. I ended up getting my first D in class because my mind could not muster the strength to complete the final project that was required of me. I had to tell my RA team and Residence Hall, which I faithfully served for 2.5 years that I was not returning next semester. I couldn’t answer any questions. I had to pretend everything was okay when in reality the rug to my life was just pulled up beneath my feet and then thrown in my face.
Bridges dorm was the longest place that I consecutively called home in my entire life and as if my time and investment meant nothing, I was shoved out its door.
I packed up room 209, filled my car with my belongings and left.
I was on the way to get a mattress for my apartment the week before Christmas when the dean of students called me. My grandmother was in the car with me. Hesitantly with hands shaking, I answered. The dean notified me that my case went above him to a committee and the committee decided that in order to be able to finish my degree not only did I have to go to counseling, but now they decided I would not be able to walk across the stage at graduation with the rest of my class. When I asked why the decision that I thought I had agreed on when I left was suddenly changed, the dean notified me that I had to be punished more. It took me a decade to come out to myself and immediately my worst fears were becoming a reality.
I hung up the phone with the dean and immediately had a nervous breakdown in my car.
Ugly crying, snot running down my shirt, hot tears on my face, and in between deep erratic breaths, I told my grandma what the dean just told me.
How I was being denied the thing I had worked so hard to achieve.
How I wasn’t going to be able to celebrate with my friends.
How the “committee” decided I needed to be punished.
How I felt like a failure and an absolute piece of trash.
Her response was, “and they call themselves Christians?” She patted my thigh and told me how much she loved me.
The next week I sat down and wrote a very strongly worded email to the president of the university. In the email, I highlighted all of the positive things I had done at the University in the three and a half years that I had spent there. (While I won’t list it all here, trust me – it’s long). I pleaded for him to let me walk the stage with my class. Two weeks later and three days before the spring semester began, the president emailed me back and notified me that while I did a lot of “good works” for the university, good works were not good enough and it was righteousness that mattered. (Mind you, I was not trying to be the next pope – I was trying to walk the stage and get the degree that I had EARNED and PAID for.) Righteousness did not earn me that degree…hard work and long nights did.
In his email was a contract that I had to agree to before I could register for my final nine hours. The contract stated that I would be able to walk the stage at graduation if I met the following conditions: first, I was fired from being a resident assistant and lost out on a $4,900 scholarship, secondly, I had to attend and pay for 6 counseling sessions with a SAGU-approved (read biased) counselor, and lastly, I had to attend an AG or evangelical church all semester long and prove my attendance by having the pastor from said church email the assistant dean of students to show that I did in fact attend.
With three days before the beginning of the semester and the realization that private religious institutions can almost do whatever they want – I agreed to the conditions. So, I spent these last five months meeting these conditions and trying my hardest to finish my degree strongly.
As of yesterday (April 27th, 2018), I graduated college with my bachelor’s in Business Marketing, and two associates’: one in Business Administration and the other in Religious Studies. Earlier this month, I started a new job working at Apple. Free from the restraints of SAGU, I am now free to (publicly) be myself and honestly, I have never been more excited for the future.
I would like to end this post with a famous quote:
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – RuPaul