I'm coming out: Students share their experiences at Kaya


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Charlotte Bodak/Assistant Photo Editor Owosso resident Sarah Winchester holds the microphone while telling her "coming out" story during Coming Out Kaya Tuesday night at Kaya Coffee House, 1029 South University Avenue. "My friend and I had to get a tattoo that signified me coming out," Winchester said. "During my experience there were lots of times I remember just telling myself let it be."

Ann Arbor senior Nick Nickodemus stepped up to the mic, took a deep breath and then said "I'm the world's biggest idiot, and I'm writing a book to prove it."

He then proceeded to recount how he came out which, in his opinion, was all the wrong ways possible. The stories included driving away girlfriends he wasn't attracted to, and telling his best friend he was gay while he was intoxicated at a bar.

"If you're at a cocktail party drinking cosmos and your best friend hasn't figured it out by now, don't tell him you're gay when you're drunk," Nickodemus said. "I don't recommend it."

Spectrum held its annual Coming Out at Kaya Coffee House, 1029 S. University Ave., on Tuesday night. The LGBTQ organization holds the event every Tuesday of Coming Out Week. About 30 people attended the event and multiple people, ranging from gay, lesbian, transsexual and asexual stood up and shared their stories.

Nick said his experience of coming out was filled with ups and downs.

"There were times when I felt wonderful, there were other times I felt terrible," Nickodemus said. "But overall, it's all been a really beautiful experience."

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Charlotte Bodak/Assistant Photo Editor Owosso resident Sarah Winchester, center, sits at a table with her friends while listening to the first speaker during Coming Out Kaya Tuesday night at Kaya Coffee House, 1029 South University Avenue. "It takes a lot of courage to get up and talk about your experiences," Winchester said. "I'm really glad to see how many people came out to Coming Out Kaya."

Rochester Hills junior Matthew Cochran said he was terrified when he accepted that he was gay his junior year of high school. His family, who still doesn't accept homosexuality because of their religious beliefs, made him feel like he had to keep his sexuality hidden.

"We were all really close as a family, and I didn't want that to end," Cochran said. "I felt like it was a secret I would have to take with me to the grave."

Cochran said he tried multiple things to try to become straight, including prayer and giving a concerted effort to like the opposite sex.

"Nothing I did really worked," Cochran said. "I was usually really good at seeing a problem and solving it. I wanted a life. I wanted children. I wanted a house, and a family for my parents to look at."

Cochran said he finally accepted that he was gay when he realized his sexuality could be compatible with his faith. He described coming out as a liberating experience, and even though this was the first time he had come out in public he said he enjoyed the experience.

"This was a lot of fun," Cochran said. "For me, it was a chance to tell my story and practice performing, both of which I really enjoy."

Spectrum President and Gladwin sophomore Megan Hilts said allowing people to tell their stories allows the LGBTQ community to have its presence heard, and also to support people within their community.

"I think it's important to raise awareness," Hilts said. "Doing things like this is giving people an opportunity to share their story, and letting people know that they are not alone."

Hilts said coming out was not just an event, but a process.

"Coming out is something that is happening all the time," Hilts said. "Everything you do impacts your life. Coming out will change who you are, and it will continue to change your life."

Erie sophomore Timothy Prayner, vice president of Spectrum, said his experience allows him to help others through similar experiences.

"I'm really comfortable with who I am," Prayner said. "Hopefully, other people won't have the experiences that I've had, but now they have someone to go through it with. I'm thankful for my experiences — they allowed me to be as confident as I am"


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