It can be exhausting and lonely, but it’s still good to be out
When the guest speaker in my class, a transgender man, finished presenting, he opened it up for students in the class to ask questions. One of my students said matter-of-factly, “I’m bisexual and I was wondering …” Wait. What did he just say? I quickly scanned the faces of the rest of the students to see if there were any obvious reactions. Him – no. Him – no. Her – no. I looked to one of the students who I thought would react – nothing. Not even a blink.
“I knew that once I started [to ask a question] if I was going to say anything it was going to be now,” Nolan Teubel, a Loras sophomore said. “No one in that class knew or was aware [of my sexual identity].”
Teubel said that his matter-of-factness was because he has met so many students who are part of the LGBTQ+ community at Loras with whom he has become good friends. These friends, he says, made him feel extremely comfortable coming out in class.
“There’s just no point to be scared or timid anymore,” Teubel said. “When I hear someone [tell me] that I seem so comfortable, that’s how I want it to come across.”
While he is very comfortable living openly on campus, that is not necessarily the case at home. He first came out during his senior year in high school. The first person he told was the girlfriend of one of his guy friends. He then sent a long text to all of the guys who were part of his inner circle.
“My friend Justin invited us all over to his house that night,” Teubel said. “They all gave me a hug and completely accepted me. That was the best reaction I could get.”
This was not the reaction he received when, later, he told his mom and his sister. While his sister responded nonchalantly – “I already knew” – his mom’s reaction, Teubel remembers, was unexpected.
“Her first reaction broke my heart,” he said.
Upon hearing he was bisexual, his mom rationalized that there was still a chance that he could marry a girl and she could be a biological grandmother. Teubel said that he did not take that well but, he says, his mom has done a complete 180 since then.
The night he told his dad, his initial response was acceptance and to tell him he loves him, Teubel recalled. But that all changed by the next morning. His mother told him that his dad did not sleep that night, wondering what he had done wrong as a father. His dad is currently in counseling but, Teubel says, their relationship has still not recovered.
“We don’t really talk about it,” Teubel said.
One of the things that he would like other students on campus to be aware of is, some part of being bisexual has an impact on his life every single day. That, he says, can be exhausting. And while he has made a lot of great friends at Loras, he says it can still be lonely at times.
He says that it is not sympathy that he is seeking. He just wants others to know that LGBTQ+ students, particularly those who are closeted, simply have to deal with situations mentally that straight students do not.
Teubel has some words of encouragement for those on campus who are in the closet.
“I just want them to know that they are not alone – there are so, so many more people [like you] than you think,” he said. “Just know that you are not alone, [because] it can feel that way sometimes.”