By: Audrie Kuntz
WVU junior Michael has been quiet about who he really is for “what feels like a lifetime.” Before he has even gotten the chance to live one, he feels like the time he has lived with this secret has been a whole life on its own.
Growing up in a family that did not welcome the idea of being “gay,” Michael says, “I found myself struggling with cognitive problems from the beginning of my journey…It was a constant battle with myself day in and day out.”
According to PsychologyToday, kids typically came out to their parents at age 17 with some coming out as young as 14.
In comparison to other states in the U.S., West Virginia is easily one that tends to be on the opposite end of “open-minded,” whereas some more Western states are more known for exactly that. California, Oregon and Colorado are just a few examples that many list when talking about being unbiased.
The one and only club in town where the LGBTQ community is equal is Vice Versa. “I’ve been there. Almost everyone I know in the community has been at least once.” He went on to say that he feels like it is the place where anyone in the community is generally accepted and not looked at as someone who is “different.”
He has said that being in the LGBTQ community has given him a way to express himself and the person he knows he has always been.
“I have found myself here more than home, for more reasons than just school.”
“Although I’m able to maintain a life here that is separated from my life at home, it still becomes exhausting,” Michael said about his family not knowing about his sexuality.
“I know who I am, but they don’t and that’s really hard.”
“School isn’t the only thing that has bound me to West Virginia. It also is the fact that I can surround myself with people like me and who don’t judge me for it…I don’t think my family would either; it’s just the thought that I think every person in the community fears, and that’s disappointing the people who love them most: their families.”
So is the LGBTQ community really accepted by the majority of Morgantown? You can have your opinion, but from Michael’s perspective: “Sadly, we still have a long way from that.”