I have not one, but two, My Heart Will Go On dance remixes on my iPod. I consider Amanda Bynes to be my spirit animal and I think the fact that The Devil Wears Prada isn’t on Netflix streaming is a crime against humanity. I’m pretty gay, and I’m proud of it.

However, I tried my best to blend in during high school. Really, I did. I was a shrinking violet. My classmates couldn’t pick me out of a one–person line up. Like Mia from The Princess Diaries, my goal in life was to be invisible, and I was good at it. Also like Mia, I was unjustly thrust into a strange new role and left to fend for myself. But instead of getting to be the capital–Q Queen of the strange and beautiful Genovia, I had to face being a regular queen at the strange and beautiful University of Pennsylvania. And I effing loved it. It’s cliche to say that acceptance and diversity are at the heart of the Penn community, but for a suburban wallflower–of–a–boy, the confidence inspired by such surroundings is unparalleled.

I took my newfound confidence and self–assurance in stride. I went to parties, made gay friends, got involved and in one strange incident had an unfortunate sexual encounter in a Houston Hall bathroom. In short, I became really slutty. And I’m okay with that. The positive reversal in my attitude is so great that sometimes I have to do cartwheels down Locust Walk, simply because I haven’t reached my gay quota for the day.

Amidst one of these forays down Locust, I was once greeted with some rather harsh language: “Ha, what a fag.” Oh, God. Here come the tears. These guys are going to see me curl up into the fetal position right in front of Au Bon Pain. Wait. Why was I laughing? What happened to the high–school–me who could be crushed with a single word? Why did I find that this whole situation was surprisingly… funny?

My first small encounter with homophobia at Penn was luckily brief and impersonal. I think it’s a testament, however, to the greater Penn community that I did not experience something like this much sooner or in a more dangerous form. The fact that I responded with a laugh and a quick Z–snap rather than bursting into tears like Brad Pitt in Seven (what’s in the box?!) truly shows that Penn offers a learning community outside the classroom.

The acceptance and sense of solidarity I feel from people all over the Penn community may not have changed how some others view me, but they have definitely given me the confidence to change how I view myself. I’ve decided that I want to be a fag. Because, in the end, I’d much rather be a fag than afraid.


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