Should I Come Out in My Personal Statement? (And If So, How)?
Special thanks to these folks for their contributions to this post: Jenny Betz, Shane Windmeyer, Zachary George, Yanadira Mendez-Magana, and Brad Ward.
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An Ally's Guide to Terminology + Intersectionality 101
(Re)considering the Role "Familismo" Plays in Latinx High School Students' College Choices
Top Scholarships for LGBTQ Students
Minding Your P's and Q's to Choose Your Perfect LGBTQ Campus + Campus Visit Score Card
Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBTQ People
Trans Policy Clearinghouse
HRC 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Check out one of my favorite webinars with Yanadira Méndez-Magaña (of Uplift Education ): 50+ Practical College Application Resources for LGBTQ+ Students and Their Counselors
Should you consider coming out in your college essay?
Yes. End of post.
First, let’s address...
Possible Reason #1: I don’t want people thinking that’s ALL of me—there’s so much more
We totally hear you on this. And we’ll address how to show you’re more than just your coming-out story in part two of this post —with examples!
Possible Reason #2: The college may not accept me, or may have an anti-LGBTQ bias
First of all, most college admissions readers are pretty cool, open-minded people. But hey, if for some reason the college has an anti-LGBTQ bias, you probably don’t want to go there anyway. Amiright? How do you avoid ending up at a non-inclusive school? Research schools carefully. To get you started, here’s a list of gay-friendly colleges (spoiler: it’s long, but how awesome is that). Here’s another list . And here’s the BuzzFeed list . Oh, and Campus Pride has TONS of resources for helping LGBTQ students in the college process--check out this podcast for more.
Possible Reason #3: But I haven’t been bullied (No sob story)
That’s okay. Here’s the question: has coming out shaped your life and values in important ways? Then maybe (at least) consider it.
Possible Reason #4: My counselor told me not to come out in my essay.
I’m trying to imagine why a counselor would say this. But I don’t want to assume I know your counselor, so do me a favor. If your counselor has told you not to come out in your essay, don’t assume you know why. Instead, find a time to sit down with them and ask why they feel you shouldn’t. Then listen carefully. Stay curious. And open. But if your counselor can’t come up with a good reason, it could be that they are just working through some stuff. And that’s not on you; that’s their thing. So be nice, and thank them for their time. Then decide for yourself.
Possible Reason #5: My parents/teachers/counselor/friends don't know yet.
Maybe you’re worried that if you come out in your college essay then suddenly the whole world will know--and maybe you’re not ready for that yet. But, wait: Do your parents/teachers/counselor/friends need to see your personal statement? Heads-up that colleges won’t be reporting back to your counselor the content of your essays, if that’s a concern. This could be just between you and the admissions reader, as you’ll see in the first example in Part 2.
You have an opportunity to control your narrative and the way you want your story to be told. Plus, you can help the college understand what role your sexual identity plays in your life. Is this a huge part of your life, for example, or just one small part of who you are? There are so many different ways to come out in your essay--you’ll find lots of examples in Part 2 of this post.
Reason #2: Schools care about diversity and are actively recruiting LGBTQ+ students
And in some cases there's even scholarship money available. In fact, here’s a big list of scholarships for LGBTQ+ students. Here’s another great list .
Reason #3: Some campuses have resource centers specifically for LGBTQ+ students
If they have a heads-up then they can connect you with those resources. And why is that a good idea? You can connect with some amazing folks even before you’re on campus.
Reason #4: Because it’s hard and you’re gonna’ get to deal with a bunch of stuff
Telling your coming-out story is a great way to metabolize your experiences and learn a whole lot about yourself. Many of the students I (Ethan) have worked with who have elected to come out in their essays have reported that telling their coming out story in their personal statement ended up being a transformative process.
Reason #5: Because your coming out story is an important part of who you are and it could help you get accepted into college
I see this happen every year. ( Examples here .)
Soooo you can probably tell, by our tone so far, that we’re suggesting that coming out in your essay is at least an idea worth exploring. Having said that, here are:
Three Situations in Which Maybe You Actually Shouldn’t
You’re just not ready yet.
If it could jeopardize your parents’ willingness to pay for college.
Because you haven’t thought too much about this yet and your essay is due, like, tomorrow.
Okay, next question: if you’re going to come out in your essay--or you’re considering it--how do you do it?
First, let’s acknowledge that there are many ways to “come out” in your personal statement: you could be disclosing a long-kept family secret, for example, or the fact that you or your family is undocumented. (For more on coming out as undocumented, read “ Should I Come Out As Undocumented in My Personal Statement ?”)
If you’ve read Part 1 of this post, “Should I Come Out in My Personal Statement” and have decided that yes, you should (or you’re at least considering it), here are two things to keep in mind. First:
A great personal statement—no matter the topic—often demonstrates these four qualities:
Core Values: (e.g.: curiosity, diversity, social justice, etc.)
Insight (aka “so what” moments)
Vulnerability (is the essay personal ?)
Craft (Is the essay well-written?)
I’ll discuss these qualities in my analysis of the sample essays below, but if you want to learn more about these qualities, check out The Great College Essay Test . The second thing to remember is this.
There are many ways to address your LGBTQ+ identity in your essay.
In the essays below, for example:
In the “This Is Me” essay below, the author describes his LGBTQ+ identity as just one of several ways he identifies.
Due to familial and cultural pressures, the author of “My Double (Triple?) Life” is not out yet and her essay describes what that’s like for her.
The author of “He Lives Freely” is out and proud and his essay is primarily about his journey towards becoming an advocate.
The author of “My Life Began at 15” describes their transition, which began as a child when (the author writes) “I knew on some level that I didn’t feel fully like a girl.”
While the author of “Room 216B” mentions his sexual identity in the first sentence, the essay is mostly about other things--primarily their love of math.
In the remaining essays you’ll find students taking a wide range of approaches, or even sharing about what it’s been like growing up with gay parents in a conservative environment.
In short, there’s no one “right” way.
Find your way.
I hope these essays will help.
Example Essay: This Is Me
I am Mexican.
The sound of frying empanadas and the smell of burning peppers. My mother calling me 'mi vida' and my relatives kissing my cheek. Running but never hiding from the dreaded chancla and always responding with, "Muy bien, y tu?" Childhood vacations to Puebla and Cancun, swimming in the ocean and playing in the sand. Feeling the need to be good at cross-country, feeling the need to be able to endure spicy.
Those are all me.
I am Chinese.
The utter preference for using chopsticks in every scenario and the unhealthy craving for rice with every meal. The sharing of every dish placed on the center turn table. Hotpot for celebration and tea eggs, of all things, as a favorite dish. My father's musical Cantonese conversations with my grandparents, and their constant inquiry asking, "How is school?" Being named after 龙, the dragon, for strength and living for three years in Shanghai. The constant pressure to get good grades, my father's desire for me to become a doctor, and the never-ending, “How are you so bad at math, you're Asian?”
I am American.
A citizen with the freedom to vote. The freedom to speak my mind and the representation by all the cultures and countries of the world. Shopping sprees at Target and a constant diet of fast foods. Full acceptance of the consumer society and a rather unhealthy addiction to social media and technology. Going to football games on Friday nights and watching Netflix on Saturday nights. Always watching my weight. Always looking at others. Always wishing, always wanting for more.
I am Catholic.
Sunday mornings always spent at church. The private Catholic middle and high schools each with masses for special occasions. Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. Praying before each meal and saying, “Go away in the name of Jesus” to nighttime horrors. Theology classes and realizing there is so much more to religion than faith. Having something to believe in. Questioning what you believe in. Turning to God when I see the horrors in the world and getting no response.
I am homosexual.
An unusual obsession with fashion and clothing. Watching Game of Thrones not for Daenerys or Cersei, but for Jon Snow and Jamie. Seeing Love Simon for the first time, and crying at least five times. Always conscious always thinking before talking. Going to an all-boys school. Dealing with gay being to go to expression for displeasure. Being called a faggot when I act gay. Fear of my parents finding out.
I am Jonathan Kei-Lung Eng.
I love reading and am addicted to fanfiction. I have three siblings and love my two dogs more than anything in the world. I can't eat spicy food and I have the biggest sweet-tooth. I play League of Legends and soccer. I'm a Marvel geek and theater nerd. My friends call me Jenga. My teammates call me Jeng. My teachers call me Mr. Eng. I am Mexican. I am Chinese. I am American. I am Catholic. I am gay. I am all of this and more, and most of all, I am me. My identity is not a singular entity, but a conglomeration of experiences, believes, and origins. This is my identity.
This is me.
Ethan’s Analysis: This essay uses the Montage Structure in that the author chooses five different identities (Mexican, Chinese, American, Catholic, homosexual) and uses a variety of specific, visual details to describe each identity. The final paragraph is a montage of other identities (Marvel geek, theater nerd, etc.).
In my opinion, it has all four qualities I mentioned above:
Core values: In this essay I see culture, family, faith, intellectual curiosity, social justice, vulnerability, humor, sensitivity, fun, adventure, and more...
Insight: So many moments in this essay give me insight into who the author is. Examples include his awareness of being a product of American culture (“Full acceptance of the consumer society and a rather unhealthy addiction to social media and technology”) and awareness that it’s possible for contrasting truths to exist simultaneously (“Having something to believe in. Questioning what you believe in.”)
Vulnerability: It’s beautifully vulnerable throughout, including the lines, “Always watching my weight. Always looking at others. Always wishing, always wanting for more” and, later, “Being called a faggot when I act gay. Fear of my parents finding out.” Note, however, that this is not what I’d call Level 10 vulnerable. I’d say it’s like level 7 or 8 vulnerable, which to me is the sweet spot for personal statements. (This is not a scientific scale, obviously; it’s more of a gut check thing.)
Craft: The quality and range of details lets us know these moments were carefully chosen and that this essay went through several rounds of revision. Also, I teared up when I read it for the first time. That’s not something you must do in your essay, but it is one indication to me that an essay possesses these four qualities.
The next example uses the Narrative Structure and, like the author above, she wasn’t yet out to her family.
Essay Example: My Double (Triple?) Life
There’s nothing more wholesome than a Persian party: we cook kebab, play chess, and dance. Okay, I’m leaving out the poker, hookah, and belly-dancing but, I believe our vices strengthen our virtues. The same friends I party with, I celebrate Nowruz with and meet every Friday to discuss Persian diaspora. We’re modern Persians and we’re fiercely patriotic.
But most of us have learned what being Persian means from our elders.
The boy didn’t know my name when he said, “Girl, don’t study biology, just marry a Persian guy, cook us food, clean the house and we’ll take care of you.” As an advocate for women in STEM, I picture myself one day expanding the United State’s sustainable energy industry, however, I’ve realized it’s my generation who will have to pave the way for Persian women in the sciences. Thus, my growing awareness of Persian social inequities has forced me to examine the other antiquated social constructs Persians clings to.
Persian summer camp and I have a complicated relationship. It’s given me a lifetime’s worth of fond memories and of microaggressions: “She hasn’t worn makeup all week, I bet she’s lesbian” and “He dresses a little too well, if you know what I mean.” One year, a camper told another girl that she liked girls, and within 24 hours she left due to the vitriol she’d endured from both campers and counselors. As she was driving away, it struck me, I could’ve easily been in her place, because I kind of like girls too. Outing myself isn’t an option, however, so to this day I keep my mouth shut and pretend not to hear the homophobia.
Bisexuality isn’t a valid option in the Persian community. Thus, I’ve imposed a wall inside me between my culture, my sexuality, and even my love for chemistry, inducing me to lead a double (triple?) life (and not the cool spy kind). I often struggle with resentment towards my community for denying me role models beyond the tropes of a loving mother. But I’ve also realized I only have room for one secret in my 5’3 body and I’ve come out about at least one part of myself.
Biology turns me on and I’m not ashamed. Embracing this has led me to create the Women in STEM club and receiving positive feedback has given me the courage to stand in my power outside of a school environment. I’ve given speeches to my Persian youth group on both healthcare in sustainable economics. Although I get called annoying by my (male) peers for speaking up, I’d endure much worse if it meant that just one girl in the crowd didn’t have to hide who she is to the community she loves.
In my lifetime I’ll see a Persian culture that respects its female doctors, and I want to be part of that. I’m not positive that I’ll see a Persian culture that accepts same-sex marriage or supports transgender rights, but I might see one that recognizes LGBTQ+ existence. I get lost in this dream where I bring my (non-existent) girlfriend to one of our infamous Persian parties and everyone’s ok with it. But the expectation for me to marry a nice, Persian man and have a big, Persian wedding also haunts me.
Worries partially aside, I’ve come to a conclusion (literally and in this essay): if I can come out to a college admissions board and not fear rejection, then I should stop fearing rejection from my community. I’m done agonizing over the hypothetical: it’s about time that I begin existing as who I am and fight back against intolerance. There’s only so much progress that even I--the Persian bisexual feminist that I am--can make from inside a closet.
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Ethan’s Analysis: This essay was written using the Narrative Structure. For a step-by-step guide (and to use the exercise this student used to generate content for this essay), try the Feelings and Needs exercise at this link . The basic parts are these:
What challenge(s) have you faced, or are you currently facing?
What have been the effects or impacts of that challenge on your life?
What different emotions did that make you feel?
Based on those feelings, what were (or are) your needs?
What did you do (or are you doing) to meet that need?
What have you learned through this process?
The exercise at the link above will walk you through those more slowly and with more context. It takes 15-20 minutes to complete it, and by the end you may have your essay mapped out.
Here are those four qualities I like to look for:
Core values: In this essay I see culture, family, social justice, science/STEM, equality, environmentalism, vulnerability, humor, ambition.
Insight: I learn a lot about her ability to use humor to cope with her situation, in particular when she writes, “Bisexuality isn’t a valid option in the Persian community. Thus, I’ve imposed a wall inside me between my culture, my sexuality, and even my love for chemistry, inducing me to lead a double (triple?) life (and not the cool spy kind).” I also get insight into how much she wants to help others when she writes, “Although I get called annoying by my (male) peers for speaking up, I’d endure much worse if it meant that just one girl in the crowd didn’t have to hide who she is to the community she loves.” My heart aches to read that.
Vulnerability: As with the author above, just writing this essay was a huge act of vulnerability. And, like the essay above, there are some vulnerable lines along the way, including “As she was driving away, it struck me, I could’ve easily been in her place, because I kind of like girls too” and “I get lost in this dream where I bring my (non-existent) girlfriend to one of our infamous Persian parties and everyone’s ok with it. But the expectation for me to marry a nice, Persian man and have a big, Persian wedding also haunts me.” The most vulnerable moment, however, may be at the end where she acknowledges that she probably still should come out… and still hasn’t. She wants to, but can’t.
Craft: It’s so well-written. Some of my favorite lines include, “Persian summer camp and I have a complicated relationship. It’s given me a lifetime’s worth of fond memories and of microaggressions” and “There’s only so much progress that even I--the Persian bisexual feminist that I am--can make from inside a closet.”
The author of the next essay uses a chronological approach (Narrative Structure) to sharing his journey toward becoming an advocate for other queer people of color.
Example Essay: He Lives Freely
One of my favorite outfits in fourth grade was a bright purple shirt with dark purple jeans. When classmates saw me, they would giggle and ask why I was dressed “like that”. Though I loved my clothes, I always felt embarrassed walking into school. My mother would tell me that I “shouldn’t wear things like that” if I wanted to fit in. I knew she was trying to help, but I felt that even if I did dress like the other boys, I would still be rejected. I was aware that my clothes weren’t the problem: it was that I was black, that my mannerisms were too feminine, that my voice wasn’t deep enough. The list of things about me classmates perceived as strange was long.
Desperate to fit in, I joined a mostly white, mean-spirited friend group in middle school that made fun of a girl named Alexis. I was so happy to have friends that I ignored their comments. But when Camille told Alexis she was no longer allowed to sit with us because she was too “ghetto,” I understood that we teased her not because of anything as simple as her bad breath, but because she was black and because she lived on the other side of town. Alexis had a list as long as mine. I stood up, looked Camille in the eyes and said “You’re a bully.” I believe this to be the moment I became an activist. I knew all too well how it felt to be made a stranger in my own community.
The next day, Camille (who, regrettably, I’d told I was gay) outed me. For the rest of the year, people mocked me in “gay voices,” and whispered behind my back. At the end of the year, I left that school, despite everything, still proud to wear my thick-framed glasses and crop-tops that I’d cut myself.
At my new school, I was drawn toward clubs like TRIBE-ONYX, the black activism club, and Spectrum, our Gay-Straight Alliance. I even attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, where I finally found a community of shared experience. The discussions there were truly cathartic, and I decided to bring them to my school. I wanted to create not just a black group, which is by nature exclusionary, but a community of diverse students that would both support its members and better our broader community. Thus, People of Color Club (POCC) was born.
As founder, I organized an assembly on microaggressions where I and other members shared our experiences. Mine was that various white teachers had neglected to learn my name and, instead, have called me that of another black student. After the presentation, many teachers and students sought me out to share the impact of the assembly. I felt excited knowing that I was already getting the community talking. POCC is not only a safe space for students of color, but also a group dedicated to community involvement. We have sorted and packaged hundreds of boxes at local food pantries and are currently working on establishing relationships with local homeless women’s shelters
I believe the constant bullying I dealt with growing up was necessary for me to develop the empathy that activism requires. Despite everything, I never attempted to hide myself or change. I took refuge in my favorite works of literature, the fearless self-expression helping me to grow a thick skin. Books like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and On the Road planted in me the knowledge that freedom is out there, and that unabashed self-love and resilience are the roadmap.
As both a writer and an activist, I want to do for others what Maya Angelou did for me. I want the lonely queer kid who can’t keep a friend to pick up my book and say, “He lives freely and without fear of judgement; perhaps there is hope for me.”
Here’s a simple outline of the structure this essay uses:
Challenges I’ve faced and their impact on me
What I’ve done about it
What I’ve learned through this experience
This essay was also written after completing the Feelings and Needs Exercise and follows the elements of Narrative Structure:
Raising of the Stakes
New Status Quo
While this essay possesses the four qualities I’ve named (Core values, insight, vulnerability, craft), here’s a quick analysis of how the author uses these elements:
Status Quo: The author is ostracized by his mother and peers.
Inciting Incident: He stands up to a bully.
Raising of the Stakes: The next day he’s outted at school by one of the bullies. As a result, he endures more bullying. Still, he continues to proudly wear the clothes he wants to wear.
Turning Point: He switches schools and joins clubs like TRIBE-ONYX, the black activism club, and Spectrum, the Gay-Straight Alliance. He also attends the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, where, he writes, “I finally found a community of shared experience.”
Denouement (i.e. what happens next--useful for showing who you’ve become): He forms POCC (People of Color Club), which is not only a safe space for students of color, but also a group dedicated to community involvement. He realizes that “the constant bullying I dealt with growing up was necessary for me to develop the empathy that activism requires. Despite everything, I never attempted to hide myself or change. I took refuge in my favorite works of literature, the fearless self-expression helping me to grow a thick skin. Books like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and On the Road planted in me the knowledge that freedom is out there, and that unabashed self-love and resilience are the roadmap.”
New Status Quo: In the end, he writes, “I want the lonely queer kid who can’t keep a friend to pick up my book and say, “He lives freely and without fear of judgement; perhaps there is hope for me.”
The essays below use either the Montage or Narrative Structure, and all pass the Great College Essay Test . Click any of those links for a step-by-step guide.
And enjoy reading the rest of these wonderful pieces.
Have a great essay to share? We love adding to these posts. If so, please email it to [email protected] .
Example Essay: My Life Began at 15
My life as I know it began when I was 15. As a freshman in high school, life is already confusing, and to add on to that struggle I began to really question who I was as a person. I had known since a very young age that I was different, and I mean that in a distinct way: I knew my sexuality was different than that of the people around me. At the age of 12 I came out to my friends as bisexual, and at the time had full support from almost every one of my peers. When I told my mother, it was in passing, on my way out the door; I didn’t think it was a big enough deal to warrant a serious conversation. I appreciate being raised to think like that. But when high school started, things got more complicated -- I began to discover gender.
I was beginning to spend time on social media, and in doing so I discovered the complexity of gender and the spectrum that it entailed, so my mind began to wander and questions of gender started to plague my mind every day.
I didn’t think I would be accepted, so I spent a year silent about these questions and confusions. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I sat my parents down at the dinner table to tell them that I was genderfluid. They didn’t understand, but they tried to. They asked questions and I answered them to the best of my ability. That was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had, and once it was over I knew it wasn’t really over. Over the course of that year, I felt more and more masculine, spending fewer days identifying as feminine and more days identifying as masculine. I stopped wearing makeup, bought myself a chest binder, wore androgynous clothing, and I told my friends to start calling me Sam -- a solid gender-neutral name.
Even as a child, I knew on some level that I didn’t feel fully like a girl. In second grade, I told my mother that I wanted to go by Max, and that I wanted to be a boy. She sent me to my school counselor, of course with good intentions. But nobody, not my mother, not my friends or my teachers, and not the counselor, told me that it was okay to want to be a boy. Nobody explained to me that transgender people exist and have existed for centuries, and nobody told me that there was a word for the way I was feeling. So I ignored how I was feeling and pushed it into the back of my mind for years.
Once I gained the vocabulary to describe the way I felt, it became infinitely easier to put into words. I finally had a label. Society relies so heavily today on labels that it felt impossible for me to be myself without one, so when I found one it was a massive relief, a huge weight off my chest. Now, being transgender is something I’m well known for and I’m able to be a source of inspiration for younger transgender kids. At 16 I had started hormone replacement therapy, and at 17 raised the money and made an appointment for gender affirming chest surgery. I know that I have to be aware of my privilege in this matter, considering how rare it is for physical transition to be allowed this early on in life. I only hope to inspire others and show them that it is possible to be happy, that it is okay to question who you are, and that you are never alone despite how lonely you may feel.
Example Essay: Room 216B
Being gay in a homophobic household, an atheist in a strict, Muslim family, and a math fanatic in a theater centered school, I have always felt out of place. I wasn’t allowed to converse with my parents about my already concealed sexuality. I read scriptures that demonized who I was. I was convinced that my orientation was heinous and that I must marry a woman. Not that women are bad, but as a gay male, women probably aren’t my type.
Most importantly, I didn’t have anyone to geek out about Math with. While the theater kids sang songs from Hamilton, I was justifying if a function had crossed the x-axis in a given interval using Rolle’s Theorem or finding the points of inflection of a function using the second derivative test years before I’d even taken Calculus. (Thanks, Harvard edX!)
Finding solace was troublesome because of the detachment I felt from surrounding environments. That was before I met my Geometry teacher on the first day of my freshman year.
I walked into the compressed room and maneuvered my way through bags and chairs. I sat down at a table, all the way in the back, on my hard-edged, metal chair, and took out my notebook.
My teacher, Mr. Smith, walked into the classroom.
“Quick, what’s 93?” he jokingly asked as an icebreaker.
“729,” I immediately blurted.
Mr. Smith, with everyone else, turned his head and stared at me. Heat began to build up in the back of my head. The air was tense.
Great. I had developed the “know-it-all freshman” personality already.
“You managed to do that in your head?” he inquired.
“Yeah, I can do other operations as well,” I replied.
Somehow, everyone else in the room vanished.
After class, Mr. Smith introduced me to math competitions such as the AMC and HMMT, geometric theorems like the Hypotenuse-Leg theorem, and future courses that he thought I’d love. Someone finally noticed me for my Math skills. I didn’t feel that out of place anymore.
My mathematical adventures didn’t end there; freshman year was filled with more self-teaching through Harvard edX. Since then, I’ve received national recognition on several occasions, qualifying for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination and placing in the 99th percentile of MathCon in my sophomore year. In my junior year, I founded and became the captain of my school’s Mathletes team, leading us to second place in a regional math competition and allowing me to organize a trip to the national Princeton University Mathematics Competition. Withal, I’ve established a mathematical personality and aided others through their mathematical plights. Every time I tutored someone, the mathematical foundation that I built for my personality and my school prospered.
Years have passed since our first encounter and every discussion with Mr. Smith has since resonated with me, creating common ground with my future endeavors and my appreciation of math.
My future occupation is probably apparent; I want to major in math and become a professor to inspire and help others like me. The adrenaline that tutoring gives me is unrivaled, and my encounters with Mr. Smith helped me realize how significant a teacher can be to their students through education and generosity.
That’s not all. I desire to become a counselor to help the LGBTQ+ youth suffering from the conflicts I have faced; I plan to double major in math and psychology. The lessons that I’ve learned through math have helped shape a compassionate demeanor, a quality necessary for both of my future professions. Balancing both will be arduous, but I’ll use everything from differential calculus to psychological behaviorism to ensure those experiencing similar hardships won’t have to feel out of place.
EXAMPLE ESSAY: Drag Race
By Edward Wolfson
“Beat your face!” “Looking fishy hunty.” “You betta work!” These quotes don’t come from a school fight, a fish market, or a demanding boss. They come from RuPaul’s Drag Race , the only show featuring an eclectic mix of dancing, modeling, lip syncing, comedy, drama, fashion, and of course drag queens. It’s a beautiful whirlwind of a little bit of TV and a whole lot of crazy—but Drag Race isn’t just a source of entertainment for me, it has shown me the beauty of pure, uninhibited self-expression and empowered me to be me.
Throughout 9th and 10th grade I was overwhelmed by the barrage of imagery that told me that being gay was about being the “right” body type and saying the sassiest, most opinionated things I could think of. This left me, a chubby pubescent 15-year-old, obsessed with losing weight and walking around the halls exclaiming “That’s faabbuulloouuss!” I was determined to become the type of gay boy that popular culture suggested I was meant to be. Drag Race showed me the endless possibilities of what being gay could mean. I saw men who looked like me being praised for their “delicious curves;” I saw gay men who liked sports or math or exercise or all of the above or none of it. I learned that I can define my own queerness; I could love biology, be oblivious as to what a “sophisticated color palette” is, and still want to experiment with drag and gender and what “me” is.
The queens on Ru Paul’s Drag Race have created a space in which they give each other unwavering love and support. They’ve shown me an ideal to aspire to, a community in which inner truths are more than accepted, they are embraced. Before watching the show, I was deathly afraid of putting on pride socks, even though they were hidden beneath my clothes. I wasn’t able to speak about things that mattered to me without a shaking voice and sweaty palms. The queens’ courage to show the world their most inner selves demonstrated to me that being brave and speaking out doesn’t only open you up to failure, it opens you up to greater success. They inspired me to march in DC Pride, wearing a rainbow tutu, dancing like nobody was watching. They gave me the strength to speak up in class, to push past the nerves and allow my voice to be heard. I took leadership positions in clubs, fostering safe spaces for my peers to share their perspectives without inhibition. As a president of poetry club, I created a platform for queer students to share their stories. I was selected to attend the NAIS Student Leadership and Diversity Conference. At the conference, I learned how to expound upon my beliefs and was inspired to make a difference in my community. I developed an independent study focused on diversifying the English and History curriculum, to give a voice to the unheard minorities at my school. Now I have a newfound confidence, a passion for leadership, and a motivation to make change.
Today, I walk through the halls unafraid to be me—to dance in the middle of the hallway, to put on my pride socks and a pin too, to sing Chicago in the airport. My hope is that I can be to others what Drag Race was for me; I want to share my experiences with my peers and reach new conclusions with them, to be brave and inspire braveness in others, and to help create a community where all can share their beliefs without fear of rejection. I can’t wait for the next season.
Example Essay: Waving Out the Window
Note from Ethan: While the author of this essay identifies as heterosexual, I felt this example was well worth including in this collection due to its content and quality.
I was too young to understand why my parents responded with silence. As a curious, naive seven-year-old boy, I questioned just about everything, but my parents, they always had answers. After a productive day at school, I skipped into my parents' Volvo and sunk into the black leather seat. As I was riding home, my innocent eyes peered out the window, and I spotted a large group of men and women surrounding the road in front of us. Rolling closer to the group, I was stunned to see so many men and women chanting with signs in their hands. Curiously, with a sneaking grin on my face, I raised my hands and began to wave at them-my dad's head snapped back at me. "Don't wave at them, Ryan." Panic filled his eyes. "Why dad?" He stared at me for a few moments with a look of pity and then turned back around. "Dad, what's wrong?" Silence.
"Kids, let's go. We're going to be late!" While hastily adjusting my crooked blue tie, tripping over myself just getting into the car, I was exceptionally giddy thinking of the celebrations that were soon to come with my parents' marriage. My parents sped straight past the church and parked by a courthouse. The celebrations never came. Inside the courthouse, strangers gave us daring side glances. I felt judged, but I didn't understand why. There was no fancy wedding, no party, no cake, no family members, no celebration. Rather than happiness and celebrations, I was scared and upset. What is wrong with us? my innocent seven-year-old self thought. Why are we different?
Maturing into my early teens, I discovered that my parents rushed their wedding plans in the wake of the Marriage Equality Countermovement, fearing that if they waited too long, gay marriage would soon become illegal. I discovered that those crazy men and women with signs were yelling slurs at our car.
I was a black sheep in a white herd. Most of my vivid childhood memories weren't of Disneyland or of Santa Claus but rather the uncomfortable experiences I faced growing up with an unconventional family. These experiences planted the idea that people would judge me for having gay parents. Throughout middle school, I kept the identities of my parents secret, going to great lengths to invite friends to my house when my parents weren't home. Realizing my attraction to males in 7th grade closed me off even further-I used to hate myself for being something I thought society viewed as wrong. Not anymore.
In high school, I snapped the leg cuffs from my ankles and took my own steps. No longer would I live my life by other people's standards. This was my life, no one else's. After three years of secrecy, I confronted my friends about my own sexuality-I heard only words of support. Unhappy playing my lifetime sport of soccer, I pursued my passion for running-becoming the captain and one of the most successful runners in school history. I dreaded going to Spanish class every day, so this past year I dropped it to double in a field I love: Science-that decision paid off as I uncovered a drive for engineering. By being myself, by being different, I'm not only much happier but also more successful.
Living my authentic self, I'll be that guy to break college's social and academic norms. Give me a presentation on Shakespeare's Othello and I'll find a way to administer an amateur psychological evaluation of my classmates. I actually did that last week. I'll be that guy to wear a dress when presenting on "Queen Elizabeth." Because in the end, being unique is so much more rewarding than fitting in with the rest.
I'll continue to look out the window and wave.
Example Essay: Princeton University Writing Supplement
“Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.” Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and chair, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University.
My being has long been bordered by the Ohio River to the North, the Appalachians to the East, the Pennyroyal Plateau to the South, and the Jackson Purchase to the West. Within this geographical compass rose is my Commonwealth. Kentucky, as I have grown to know it, is a land in which paradox is commonplace. As a Kentuckian, I am no exception to this rule. My own Commonwealth Catch-22 is one that has guided my life: how I can love a place that has hated my family for so long.
I will begin with a tale of two Kentuckies—mine and the one you have probably heard. Mine is a tale of same-sex parents whose love was born in the bluegrass, a love so strong that it supported me even as I seemed to have stopped deserving it. Their love is my Kentucky, and it was a love I thought normal until proven otherwise. Mine ends with a realization of difference: as I took a seat in my third grade open house, I noticed that I was the only child accompanied by a mother and a stepmother. The story of the Kentucky the newsmen know begins with my discovery that all of the rescinded sleepover invitations, nervous whispers, hostile stares, and solitary lunchtimes had a source. The tributary of this Ohio River of exclusion was none other than a family that loved each other unapologetically.
This epiphany was followed by an anger reflected in a myriad of principal’s office visits and friendship counseling sessions. Through this period, my family held my quickly unraveling ends together, even as I began to blame them out of a place of confusion. In this time that spanned the rest of my elementary and middle school, I screamed out of fury rather than purpose.
I found my voice in silence. It was two days of no words in protest of LGBTQ bullying and discrimination during my freshman year of high school. In that silence, I could no longer drown out the dreaded whispers but was forced to consider how they could be stopped. Those 48 hours still echo through my life, as they represent my triumph over hopelessness into purpose.
The parts of my identity I once resented, my family and my state, have become what I treasure most. In my family, I see a love capable of transcending hate and turning it into tolerance. In my state, I see a beautiful land I can help overcome ugly unfairness. In all I advocate for, whether that be women’s equality, teachers’ pensions, LGBTQ rights, or drug prevention, I strive to personify the love that made me and fight for the state that gave me a home. More than anything, I share my story to empower all those in my community who feel voiceless.
Regardless of where life may take me, the voice I discovered in silence and the purpose I found in prejudice guides me. I will always be the once directionless girl born in a compass rose seeking to find the true North of progress.
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College Admissions Essay: The LGBT Community
Essay about coming out.
It has been one year since I made a bold movement to come out to my mom as pansexual. Just to clarify, that does not mean I’m attracted to “pans” ,as in the one I could go to my kitchen and pull out. Pansexual, as defined in the dictionary, means to “not be limited in sexual choice regarding biological sex, gender, or gender identity”. Now, I may not be the best at explaining certain situations too in depth, but if I were to rate my most emotional moments in my entire lifetime, then my coming out story would most definitely rank number one. Without further ado, I present to you the most personal moment that I have ever experienced.
Essay on The Mental Health of Individuals in the LGBT community
- 8 Works Cited
The mental health of individuals in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community is something that is a serious problem. For most of the history of the United States and many different parts of the world LGBT people faced much persecution and in some cases even death. This constant fear of discovery and the pressure that one feels on oneself when “in the closet” can lead to major mental distress. Research has shown that people who identify as LGBT are twice as likely to develop lifetime mood and anxiety disorders (Bostwick 468). This is extremely noticeable the past couple years in the suicides of bullied teens on the basis of sexual identity and expression. The stigma on simply being perceived as LGBT is strong enough to
The Community Of Lgbt Workers Essay
Since the beginning of their existence and in today’s society, the community of LGBT workers are not being treated fairly or getting their fair share that they deserve in the workplace. They are victims to high rates of workplace discrimination. Instead of being judged as workers and what they bring to their jobs and how they work, they are being judged by their sexual preferences and appearance. Being a gay or transgender worker causes them to be mistreated, not judged for the actual workers they are, and most importantly, halts a majority of them in better career and job opportunities. Although under federal law it is illegal to fire someone who is either gay or transgender, they are still either being denied employment or being terminated from their jobs because of their gender category or sexual orientation.
College Admissions Essay: Discrimination And Racism
I like to think of myself as a person who can appreciate and understand everyone's opinions. Although I might not agree with them, I feel as if everyone's beliefs and thoughts deserve to have equal initial respect. This leads me to where I was first introduced to discrimination and racism, the exact opposite concepts I now try to surround myself with. I have lived in Cross Roads, Pennsylvania for the entirety of my young life and if there is anything obvious about my community, it is that we are not very advanced in the diversity department. My hometown is predominantly white, which brings on a whole new set of problems concerning discrimination and racism, especially when a family of a different race moves to our community. Now don't get me wrong, my family, my friends, my neighbors, are not bad people. Most of them are great people but a few have just been brought up with idealisms that I myself find racist in nature. As an example, someone I spend a lot of time with because of family relations is in many ways ignorant to people different than them. They, like me, grew up in a
College Admissions Essay: A Personal Experience Of Being Gay
For the next two years I struggled with the concept that I might actually be gay. By junior I was certain that I was in fact all the things that I was called in middle school, but because of the negative memories I decided it was a secret that I was better of keeping to myself. That was until the spring semester of my senior year in high school when I decided that I was going to live my life the way I wanted to. I would no longer allow people to scare me into being anything other then what I wanted to be I would live my life openly and honestly. On the evening of February 16, 2014 I came out as Gay on literally every social media platform I owned. The following morning, to my surprise, my classmates for the most part greeted me with open arms. As I walked from class to class I received a staggering amount of compliments and support. I was quite frankly overwhelmed when I did get a negative comment and a dozen people rushed to my
Persuasive Essay On LGBT
The LGBT community in the United States has always had massive difficulty fitting into our society. For many years they put up with constant mistreatment and other forms of abuse coming from the those who do not agree with their lifestyle. They have for long advocated for the acceptance of their existence and punishment for crimes committed against them. One of the hardest battles the community has had to face was the right to marry in a society that still holds the values of a traditional relationship which is between a male and female. The struggle was quite harsh but it all paid off by 2015 when the supreme court granted gay couples the right to marry. This historical decision did not go without outcry and criticisms. Most of the dissatisfaction came from those who hold very religious values and beliefs that claims homosexuality is a sin. Religion has always been a part of the American way of life since the nation's founding and with that homosexuality has been demonized throughout our society. Now that gay couple possess the legal rights to have a marriage license, religious companies and/or stores are now denying service to LGBT couples as they believe it sinful on their behalf to even take part. Many people gay or straight who fought for gay rights believe these is pure discrimination and that stores should not have the right to deny service for any customer for any reason. However, this belief is unconstitutional and goes
Lgbtq Youth And Its Impact On The Community Essay
It’s very likely that LGBTQ youth are not able to get the help in school which causes them to have low self-esteem, not show up to school, and even engage in risky behavior. School psychologists must provide services for their entire student body and that includes youth apart of the LGBTQ community. Regardless of what their beliefs are it’s important that they give LGBTQ youth the support that they need and also help them work towards a positive identity while going the process of coming out. To assist LGBTQ youth with the decision of coming out, school therapists must create an environment that is conducive to trust, provide resources that will educate and foster empathy, and great care must be given to the type of therapy.
The Stonewall Riots
Around my middle school years, I knew something about myself was unique, but I could not quite put my finger on it. No one in my family was gay, the word gay was rarely spoken and I did not even know queerness existed. My family lived a very heteronormative lifestyle and I always assumed I would marry a girl and have children. I remember very clearly a day when I was in sixth grade, I was standing in the hallway after class and someone asked me, “are you gay?” I did not know how to react, I did not even know what the word “gay” meant. I immediately replied “NO” as the term gay was always used synonymously with stupid. After school that day, I asked my grandma what it meant to be gay and she described what it mean to be gay. In that moment,
Lgbtq Persuasive Essay
The current context of LGBTQ+ and women’s rights such as abortion with the recent election of President Trump was the inspiration for my research. I feel it is important for everyone to know when there has potentially been a violation of right’s, no matter the side one person and one vote can make a difference in so many lives. My mind has always been overcome with questions that relate to religion and the role it plays in politics. I have found through personal experience that religion plays in integral part in the political decision making of many individuals. These questions led me to formulate a formal question to give direction to my research. This question is, “How has Christianity impacted the passage of LGBTQ+ and women’s rights laws
Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center Essay
The Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Their mission is to build a world where LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal and complete members of society. They value respect, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, and integrity. The services that are offered by the Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center is housing, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, clothing and laundry services, education program, HIV testing and counseling, employment program, computer lab, housing referrals, recreational activities, art and music groups, and counseling and support groups. This center is open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. except for Saturday it is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It helps the youth and individuals find peace and get their life back on track.
Argumentative Essay On LGBT Community
The LGBT community has always been a topic that many do not recognize go through serious issues such as suicide. Being a middle schooler or high schooler can be very stressful especially when you feel you’re an outcast because of your sexual orientation. That is why implementing programs or even activities can provide individuals with the information they need to be more aware of what type of people are around them. This could also help LGBT students feel more comfortable interacting.
Personal Narrative: My Coming Out
My coming out went really smoothly. My grandma is totally chill with it. I first told her in 3rd grade when I liked Kennedy. I honestly can not remember a thing about it, but I do know now that I talk to her about it quite often, and she does not care. She supports me.
Personal Narrative: My Sexuality
Growing up everyone is told that they are unique. “Be yourself,” “use your God-given talent,” and other expressions such as these impress the aforementioned narrative into our minds. Thus, when I was around thirteen years old, I thought my sexuality was just a part of me that only I had. I wanted to share this feature about myself; I wanted to take pride in it and show it off. Coming out to a close few friends showed positive and emotional responses. Riding on this high, I was ready to embrace myself in high school. Yet, my naivety took the best of me as I was going to an all male, religious high school. My sexuality has provided me with experiences that have and will continue to shape my life. These struggles, whether they are internal or external, have provided me with invaluable skills.
Prejudice And Discrimination Regarding Lgbt Essay
There are differences between what is considered to be prejudice and what discrimination is. Prejudice is identified as a typically negative attitude that is directed towards an individual 's social status, or group. Discrimination is reported as completing a negative act, or acts, towards a group, or individuals in a group, on the bias of the same reason or reasons. Given what is known, or inferred, about prejudice and discrimination, it can be related back to how LGBT associates are effected within athletic fields. Understanding the terminology, methods of research, development, and corrective/preventive procedures are well discussed in the field of Social Psychology.
The Importance Of Sexual Identity Development
The sexual orientation identity development is a theoretical model that conceptualized the resolution of internal conflict related to the formation of individual sexual identity. For sexual minority people, it is commonly known as the coming-out process (Bilodeau & Renn 2005). There have been many different models elaborated to explain such process. All of them share similar stages: awareness, crisis, and acceptance (Loiacano 1989). When individuals become aware of their queer feelings and attraction, they try to block these homosexual feelings by constantly denying and minimizing them. This mechanism of defense leaves negative sequelae in their overall psychosocial well-being (Bilodeau & Renn 2005). Individuals tend to pass by a
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Gay Acceptance - Harvard - College application essay help
Hometown : Hopkinton, Massachusetts, USA
High School : Public school, 295 students in graduating class
Ethnicity : White
Gender : Male
GPA : 4.0 out of 4.0
SAT : Reading 800, Math 750, Writing 760
SAT Subject Tests Taken : U.S. History, Mathematics Level 2, and Biology M
Extracurriculars : Drama Club member, National Honor Society president, Students Taking on Poverty president, Men’s Chorus member, UNITE Mentoring mentor
Awards : Princeton Book Award, National Merit finalist, Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award, Salutatorian, AP Scholar with Distinction
Major : Sociology
College application essay help
I didn’t see many rainbows in India. They hide in the monsoon rains, or are too frightened by the hot, stifling climate. Likewise, I was terrified of showing that side of myself in a homophobic country, especially to the host family I had grown to love.
“Why India?” my friends would ask. They knew the cruel, anti- gay laws in that country. I knew I had to go anyway. I felt an obligation to see what life must be like when society ignores you, constricts you like a tightly-wound sari. And subconsciously, I hoped that I might somehow change opinions. Yet when I arrived, I was scared to broach the subject, even with Tanmay, my 13-year-old smart but immature, host brother.
Only a pink, flimsy curtain separated our shared bedroom from the corridor, but nevertheless a sort of secret camaraderie developed during our nightly hushed conversation. We hoped Aji and Baba wouldn’t hear us. As Tanmay asked me which of the girls on my program I liked, I remembered the sleepovers of my childhood, during which the discussion of romance was dreaded and confusing. Now, I countered with ease. “Sophia is pretty,” I diplomatically replied, re- leasing the moment’s tension that only I perceived. I began to enjoy responding to his provocative questions, the answers to which he already knew, teaching him what were accepted topics of discussion within my culture. “What is dating?” “How are babies made?” I reveled in his squirming and shock when I gave a blunt, sex-ed-type answer. “Have you ever liked a girl?” Personal pronouns had never before been so treacherous, nor so masterfully avoided.
I found myself relishing the satisfaction of self-knowledge, the thrill of carrying a secret, the transition from a very private introvert to now a big brother for the second time in my life—candid about everything—except for one.
“He’s the biggest homosexual in my class,” he snorted, while discussing his classmates. I seized up, but I willed myself to speak, venturing into unsafe airspace.
“Tanmay, you shouldn’t make fun of gay people.” I sounded like a cheesy tolerance advertisement. “Did you know that they” (the safety of third-person!) “don’t choose to be gay?” He disagreed. We continued bantering in the first truly meaningful debate of my life, though the culture clash was played with blunted weapons. The notion of me having gay friends astounded him. The thought of telling him the truth, which for my own safety I couldn’t do, was appealing. Instead, I took a different risk as I exposed myself to the likelihood of disappointment. “Did you know that in some parts of America, two men or two women can get married?” He did. “What do you think about that?”
I expected him to disapprove and prepared to brush off the ignorance. His experience was far different than my own. I remembered how lucky I was to live in colorful Massachusetts.
After a long pause, he replied. “I think it’s good. As long as a gay person doesn’t have to marry a non-gay person.”
I remember being overwhelmed by the hope that must have spilled from our humid apartment into the street below. I believed then, as now, that I had done a tiny part in the global quest for justice, and I was proud. Or perhaps progress was to come without my actions. Yet the unexpectedness of his affirmation, coupled with the innocent humor of its qualification, made me smile as the night’s tropical rains descended on India. We would find out the morning’s weather soon enough.
Erik takes a risk in this essay, but he executes it quite effectively. He writes about two topics often recommended to approach with caution in a college essay: traveling abroad and coming out.
However, Erik puts a unique spin on these topics. He narrows in on one specific anecdote of his travel experience, with the location being critical to the worldly nature of the story and his understanding of cultural differences. Similarly, instead of talking solely about his coming out experience, Erik uses this significant aspect of his identity as a way of contextualizing his experiences in a different culture. His story is one about standing firm in his identity and changing a mindset of a young adult. That is where this essay truly shines.
These two topics work together seamlessly to tell a specific story that has shaped his future desires. However, one aspect Erik could have improved upon is letting the story do the telling at the end, as he does through most of his essay. For example, using phrases like “quest for world justice” can be seen as not only cliché but also as a sweeping statement and unrealistic goal.
Erik successfully started with a broad introduction at the beginning, zoomed into a certain anecdote, and zoomed back out at the end. With his captivating language and attention to detail, he successfully engages the reader while taking risks with his essay—risks that worked together to accomplish an effective essay.
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Topher began working at Stanford University’s Career Planning & Placement Center in 1998. His career spans 30 years. At Santa Clara University, he managed Bay Area, Los Angeles and Texas territories where he recruited, evaluated, and admitted athletes, freshman, and transfer applicants. At Ohlone College in Fremont, he served as Interim Director of Admission and Records. Since 2011, he has worked in test prep and college consulting, providing guidance to families preparing their children for college.
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Never alone - Yale - Sample common application essay
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The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Pariah Essay
Apart from the aesthetic value that literary works bequeath humankind, they are of great importance since they help in socio-cultural construction and analysis. The novels, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Pariah exemplify this reality.
Question 1: Analysing How the Concept of Intersectional Identity Is At Work
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Making The Invisible Visible: Fear And Disclosure Of Sexual Orientation At Work Essay Example
Hypothesis Gays, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) workers who disclose their sexual orientation get positive and negative reactions and responses from co-workers, which may or may not affect their attitude towards work.
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Peer review#1 In his article Meyer points out the day to day prejudices of the society against LGBT people. His aim is to outline the effects; these prejudices have on the lives of Homosexual people. In his article, he quoted many Homosexual people that he has interviewed. All of them admit that they have to live in a constant distress and fear because of their sexual orientation. He asks his reader to imagine the situation of a homosexual person who would have to live under constant reject because of his sexual preferences.
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Common app 1: background and identity.
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Being different is lonely. No one ever tells you, but it's true. You can be in a huge group of good friends and feel like a complete outsider if there's something about you that "others" you.
I first truly realized I was different when I was in middle school. That's when my classmates started holding hands and pairing off, and it was all anyone could ever talk about: Garrett's holding hands with Kristen, but only one week after holding hands with Frannie? What a jerk.
The beginning of adolescence is when it truly started for me.
I always knew I liked girls, but as people always tell me, "You never would have guessed it." I don't fit the mold. No one's ever screamed at me on the street because of my apparent sexuality. Coming out to my family was also very simple; my mom's brother is gay and so are a few cousins on my dad's side. Homosexuality is not a big issue in my family.
I'm very grateful for this, by the way. There are people whose journeys have been much more difficult and painful.
Even so, as any non-straight person will tell you, it's a lonely life. For everyone you meet, unless they fit a certain stereotype, it's assumed that they're straight. If they're not, it's rude or tactless to ask (it is a private matter, after all). It's a bit difficult to find someone to relate to, and even harder to find someone romantically compatible. No one in my immediate group of friends at the time was openly gay, so whenever the subject of dating came up (which was very often), I just checked out. I couldn't relate, and no one asked me to.
I'm not one to just complain and do nothing. Still, it took me a while to figure out what to do. For middle school and part of high school, I had myself convinced that it wasn't a big deal. It almost worked.
Finally, in my sophomore year of high school, I joined the Gay-Straight Alliance. My high school was much bigger than my middle school, so I met a lot of other people like me. From there, I learned about our city's Queer Center, where I met even more people like me. This is where I met my first girlfriend. I joined a Chicano Rights group with her, because being a Chicana is something I can't relate to with her. For once, I was part of the majority in a group of minorities.
I'm not a sociologist or a psychologist (I've only taken AP Psych). Still, from what I've observed, humans are naturally social. We need to interact with people. Feeling alone is horrible, and depending on the extent of isolation, it can also be traumatizing. This is why communities are so important. Being a part of a community of people saved me.
Why This Essay Works
This essay covers a young person's journey from emotional loneliness to a sense of belonging. Her sexual orientation is part of her identity, but it's not the focus of the essay. Being a lesbian could have been switched out with anything else that would make someone a minority: being a person of color, being trans, having a disability, etc.
We also see that she steps back when she needs to. She discusses her very fortunate situation with her family and with the public; she's never been bullied or targeted because of her sexual orientation. Immediately after, she checks her privilege by saying how grateful she is.
Also, in the concluding paragraph, she makes a claim about the way humans are. She acknowledges that she's not an expert, but her claim isn't that far off anyway.
In the end, this personal statement is something we can all relate to: Being different can be pretty lonely. This is why niche communities are important.
This essay's a little on the short side, but the message is short, sweet, and to the point, so it works.
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Here's the powerful essay that got a high school senior into all 8 Ivy League schools
High school senior Victor Agbafe got into every college he applied to — including all eight Ivy League schools.
"If you look at the acceptance rates of these schools, it's just so difficult to get into even one," he said. "So I would have been happy at any one of them."
The 17-year-old plans to become a neurosurgeon after he finishes college and medical school, eventually going into public policy. To this end, Agbafe said he was looking for a school with strong government, economics, and science programs.
Agbafe has graciously shared his Common Application essay with us, which we've reprinted in full below:
Why I Refuse to be Silent
"Wow I thought black people are supposed to be scary." This honest and uncensored statement that a little girl recanted as I recited my biographical speech on Florence Nightingale clothed in the white sheets that represented Ms. Nightingale's pure heart tore down my dignity and self-esteem to shreds like a machete chopping off the foundation of a plant. Nevertheless, these words instilled a spark in me to relentlessly stand up for others that are unjustly judged.
Many years later, I was prompted to act when my friend grumbled about how the Day of Silence for LGBTQ individuals that I and some members of the diversity club initiated was garbage. At first I ignored him, but then as I overheard him tell his likeminded friend that he would "never have a college roommate who was gay," that very spark in me was lit and I felt morally obligated to challenge this prejudiced line of thinking.
I began to ask him if he would really refuse to have a roommate who was gay. As our conversation escalated, his face turned red, my heart beat faster, and our voices grew louder. My friend felt that one couldn't be a devout Catholic like myself and yet support gay marriage. I countered by attacking his Biblical argument that gay marriage is a moral abomination with my belief that Christianity should be about love and acceptance of others. After a drawn-out argument in which I constantly refuted my friends points, I remembered that inner beat-down I had suffered many years ago that had really triggered my confrontational stance. This was about a whole lot more than a logical or ethical argument, this was about an attack on my human rights.
I don't know what it feels like to be gay, bisexual, or transgender, but I do know what it is like to have a facade of inferiority hang over me because I look "scary." I know how worthless it is to pat the victim on the back or assure him in times of privacy that "it doesn't matter what she thinks." This applies even in the most intimate of settings as I find my friend is not the only one I must confront on such issues but also my own personal heroes. "But granny regardless of what the bible says isn't the struggle for gay rights just like the struggle for racial equality?" I know that it may seem wrong to challenge those that have unconditionally loved and taken care of you, but I must do so in order to ensure that others can feel this same love from all people.
I speak up because when one sees an injustice and just shrugs one's shoulder it is just like promoting it. We live in a society of interdependence in which we must be allies for each other in all social spheres for the continual progress of society as a whole. If one analyzes any prolonged societal injustice against any social group in history, one will see that a critical component in its persistence was the silent approval of the unaffected. I will admit that it can be very confusing at times to stand up for others, especially when it involves challenging ideal systems I've always considered absolute or people I look up to. But in order to reap the vast benefits of the great diversity around us we must take to heart the sorrows of our fellow human-being and make them our own.
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When I started college, I was afraid to be openly gay. By the time I graduated, I was able to celebrate my queerness.
- Growing up, I struggled with my sexuality and did my best to hide it from others.
- In my freshman year of college I finally acknowledged I'm gay and started dressing more masculine.
- At my school's lavender graduation for LGBTQ students, I finally felt proud to be gay.
I enrolled in Central Piedmont Community College in 2019. When I walked through the doors on the first day, I felt like I was stuck in purgatory.
For starters, I was embarrassed to have "failed" the task of getting into a four-year college. But most alarmingly, I had a crush on a girl in my history class. I couldn't muster up the courage to say more than hello or compliment her outfit. I wore oversized flannels and kept my crush a secret from everyone.
When I graduated from college four years later, I was finally able to celebrate my queerness .
At the start of my freshman year of college, I didn't know who I was
In the second semester of my freshman year, I transferred to Queens University of Charlotte. That was right when the pandemic started.
As I sat in quarantine, I thought a lot about my sexuality. I remembered attending a creative-writing camp when I was younger. I'd blushed while listening to the other girls read slam poetry about liking girls. I envied the pride flags they hung on their doors. I also remembered the struggle I had when I tried to sign up for the Gay Straight Alliance in middle school.
In Hebrew school I liked a girl from class who loved art and marine biology. The only time I got to speak to her beyond small talk was during Yom Kippur. When our parents prayed for the dead, we went outside to gossip. But we were starving from fasting, so I couldn't tell what was hunger and what were butterflies in my stomach.
I took countless quizzes online to see if I was straight or gay. Eventually my friends sent me the "Am I a Lesbian" Masterdoc on social media, and everything clicked. I finally admitted to myself in my freshman year of college that I'm gay.
Both my parents were thrilled I'd found myself. My mom even got me lesbian-flag shirts.
Once I realized I'm a lesbian, I became more comfortable with my identity
I started by cutting my hair short. I did this in increments: first shoulder length and then a crew cut. Years of pain fell to the floor and got swept away by the barber's broom. I started to wear masculine clothes to synagogue and received stares from the congregation. I never felt so comfortable in my life.
While researching the Holocaust for a class project, I stumbled upon black-and-white photos of Jewish lesbians dancing and smiling in queer bars in Berlin, where my grandfather lived before the war. Finding out there were others like me in the past helped me build my self-love in the present. They didn't hide any part of who they were at a time when their identities were oppressed by society. Why should I?
In my senior year I participated in my university's first lavender graduation
A lavender graduation is a queer-only ceremony held at universities across the country each year, designed to celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ seniors. At my ceremony I learned about Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian who started lavender graduation in 1995 at the University of Michigan.
Before attending, I'd never thought about my queerness as a quality to be honored. I viewed it as a heterosexual test I'd failed — but here I received an A-plus.
A guest speaker told us to continue to shine our light in our professions and to never be ashamed of who we are. He talked about wearing nail polish despite initial pushback from his coworkers and inspired us to embrace what made us unique. I felt empowered as a queer person.
The lavender graduation made me proud to be gay and helped me realize how far I'd come
I'd started college with my head hanging low and my shoulders hunched. I internalized society's stigmatization of lesbians and could barely say the L-word without embarrassment.
On my graduation day, I finally had the courage to wear a suit as I walked across the stage at commencement. Over my suit, I wore a lavender cord — a promise that I'd never hide again.