Gay in Allentown

The culture shock of moving from a small town to Muhlenberg

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Locking eyes with Mrs. Green trying to ask what I have always wanted to know, but I don’t. I turn and leave: “Thank you for your time,” I squeak. I feel her disappointment follow me out of the room as I watch my own sprint across the floor in front of me. She knew what I was going to ask and part of her wanted me to ask it: I was going to ask if she was gay. Desperate and alienated, I was grasping at straws, but I held my tongue because I knew better than to ask such a controversial question.

I have lived in Chesterfield, Missouri all my life, and it is a beautiful place but not a very open one. I came out to everyone in my life as a bisexual woman about two and a half years ago. They supported as me as best they could, but I always felt alienated because people would always tell me to “love who I am” and accept that there are “some things you can’t change,” yet no LGBTQ+ adult within 50 miles of me was doing the same. There was not ONE openly LGBTQ+ teacher at my school, and I had suspicions of more than I could count.

I wish I could paint the picture that things are as accepting everywhere as they are at Muhlenberg, but I cannot.

Flash forward eight months and I am sitting in my Intro to Sociology class listening to my professor casually speak of her daughter…and partner. I was practically making 360 degree turns waiting for the conservatives to come out from behind a desk, tackle her down and take her away. They never did. Everyone just sat there like it was the most normal thing they had ever heard, and I was left wondering if I was in the Twilight Zone.

Upon graduating from high school, two teachers, one being Mrs. Green, that I had known for three years and had spent more hours with then I could count, came out to me. However, they have still yet to come out at school because she is not legally guaranteed that she will be able to keep her job. The district claims that it is “implied” in the policies, but “implied” doesn’t always hold in court.

I wish I could paint the picture that things are as accepting everywhere as they are at Muhlenberg, but I cannot. Muhlenberg has a long way to go, and we need to focus on constant improvement here. However, we must also remember that the rest of the country is still out there, and it is pretty amazing here. We can write off places like Chesterfield as places with ridiculous or awful people who can’t be reasoned with, but we would better off helping them understand what their own personal worlds could look like. Nothing is ever perfect, but things can always become better.

The author of this piece has asked to remain anonymous. 

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