Coming to Know Myself

SHS exposed me to a culture of acceptance

Ryan Frankel, Editor

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We all have obstacles in our lives. They come in different shapes and sizes, just like hills, valleys, or even mountains. Looking back on my life, I always seemed to struggle to find my identity. It wasn’t until I moved to Massachusetts and entered my senior year of high school when I fully understood the fact that I’m gay. If I didn’t immerse myself in the Scituate culture and community, I wouldn’t have been able to sustain a good life full of gratitude and happiness, which I now have today.

I started to question my sexuality in the 6th grade when I was a middle school student in Fairfield County in Connecticut, but at that point, I still classified myself as straight. It didn’t help to have classmates make assumptions about my life way before I figured out who I am. I identified as straight just as a label. I didn’t know who I was. When I moved to Scituate in August 2017, I quickly realized how open and accepting everyone is toward the LGBTQ+ community. The very first time I walked through the halls of SHS, I was fascinated to see gender-neutral bathrooms: It just wasn’t a thing where I came from. I couldn’t understand what the term “non-binary” meant until I met my best friend. It was scary at first to see the gay kid being the popular one. He’s well-liked and admired among teachers, parents, and students. I was used to seeing gay students being treated as outcasts and even being picked on for being different–as harsh as it sounds.

The difference in cultures from my old hometown in Connecticut compared to the culture in Scituate was absolutely mind-blowing. I will always remember the lesson Ms. Willinger gave in my AP Government class about the political cultures of the United States. I learned that people who live outside of Boston tend to put their morals before their individual self. According to David T. Cannon, John J. Coleman, and Kenneth R. Mayer’s, “The Enduring Debate,” people who live in Connecticut tend to put their individual self before their morals.

You’re probably wondering why this all matters. When I was living in Connecticut it was very difficult for me to figure out who I was as a person. Although Connecticut is traditionally a liberal New England state, regions like Fairfield County have a large conservative population influenced by money and wealth. In fact, I believe there are gay students attending my former high school who are still in the closet because they are afraid of how others will think of them.

I recently received a text from an old friend who currently attends my former high school who definitely showed some interest in me. Many other students made assumptions to his sexuality but seemed to closet himself in order to cover up and conform to that society. “Liking guys is almost a blessing and a curse, at least it feels like that,” said my friend. At that moment I felt so shocked anyone would say that, and I knew I had to act as a resource for him. I’ve grown to learn that people choose to live a certain lifestyle, and looking back from that experience, I ask myself, “Why would anyone want to live a life that’s just not them?”

Graduation is just a few months away, and even though my time at Scituate High School was relatively brief, my school community helped me break open the closet door that I kept shut for many years of my life. During February break, I was on a flight home from Arizona when my friend from Pembroke set me up with a senior who goes to BC High. We had our first date at Seabird, a coffee shop in Cohasset, and we just clicked: Our birthdays are similar, we both like writing and photography, and we both hope to travel the world. We’ve been on many other dates since then, and I still can’t believe I found a best friend, someone who makes me happy and inspires me to do more.

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