My name is Matthew Scheerschmidt, I graduated from Cedarville in 2012, and I am gay.
As with many Cedarville students, I grew up in a pretty conservative family. I went to a Christian school from kindergarten through high school. Suffice it to say, I was pretty aware of how the Christian culture viewed homosexuality.
When I was about ten, it was discovered that a family member was gay. I was not very cognizant of what exactly that meant, but I could tell from my family’s reactions that it was one of the worst things a person could be. When we did visit that part of the family, neither I nor my siblings were allowed to be left in a room alone with him for fear of what he might do to us. Every character flaw he had was blamed upon his homosexuality and, therein, his inherent lack or morals. This made clear my family’s view of homosexuality.
As a pretty theatrical and dramatic child, I would often spend weekends and evenings singing along to musical soundtracks or belting out love ballads from the radio. I always enjoyed singing the women songs better because I could transpose them easier into my octave, and I naturally identified with them more. But when I would sing along, my mother would act disgusted. She would often tell me to either sing with the guys or change all the pronouns. It was offensive to her for me to be singing about a man even as an innocent youth.
So when I realized as an early adolescent that I preferred men over women, I knew I would have to keep these feelings a secret and try to cover them up.
I had my first girlfriend when I was 17. It was a girl I had been close friends with for quite a while, and all my (equally female) friends told me that the next step was to ask her out on a date. So I did. We dated for about four months, and I resented her the entire time. I hated being near her because I knew she would want to be physically close to me and hold my hand and, maybe one day, even kiss, and I did not want any of that to happen. This was clearly not working.
But I kept trying to play the part of the straight male. I think I ended up dating three or four different girls over the next several years, but it never got better. I finally knew there was no chance of me having a successful heterosexual relationship when I had my first and only straight kiss with my last girlfriend. It was terrible. We both hated it. And we both knew that this relationship was clearly a fraud. So we continued dating for another four months.
I came out to her a month after we broke up, and she politely feigned surprise. I had secretly come out to two friends previous to this, but this was the one that really got the ball rolling. I had soon told all of my close friends, a few strangers, and at least one family member. But this was still during my senior year at Cedarville, so I had to keep it relatively secret.
By the time I graduated, I had completely come to terms with it. As a Christian, I could not see how God could create humans with a deep desire for closeness and intimacy and then deny an entire subgroup the ability to develop that intimacy. And as a person, I knew I wanted to develop that closeness with someone in the future.
I finally told my parents a few months later, and they were pretty supportive, considering. I still conflict with a lot of what my family believes, but they are trying their best, and that is a lot better than most. And I can finally say that I am living as my true authentic self.