"It was a big relief because I felt like I could be myself. It wasn't like I was hiding anymore.” Randa Lynn says, remembering her admitting her nontraditional sexuality and her coming out a year ago in front of Mississippi State University's Colvard Student Union.
"I sat in front of the union Wearing my [Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Friends (GLBF)] T-Shirt. Some of the people that I went to high school with, they kinda frowned. The true friends I had stopped and said 'hi.’”
Randa's coming out was both a beginning and an end.
She says many of the people she thought were her friends no longer associate with her. But she doesn't regret the experience. She is very comfortable with her sexuality and has become an active member of GLBF.
It was GLBF that made Randa's feel comfortable coming out.
One day on the Internet, Randa met Joan Sanders. It wasn't until after they had chatted for a while that Joan told Randa she was a lesbian. Joan and Randa met in person shortly after, and Joan told Randa about GLBF. Randa decided to meet with representatives from the group and she began attending meetings at the end of September.
"I was scared,” Randa says about her first GLBF meeting. “I didn't know how they were going to react to me. Afterwards, I felt really good that I had gone.”
Randa says GLBF is a very supportive group and she really enjoys it. She gets irritated when people incorrectly assume she was “recruited” by the organization.
“I had always known I was different. I had worried about [my sexuality) since I was in the seventh grade when I had a crush on a girl. It hurts that some people just don't understand," she says.
Being a lesbian was not a decision Randa made.
"I had gone out with guys before, but I didn't click. I dated guys but had crushes on girls and never pursued them," she says.
Randa has even gotten a marriage proposal. She says, “I know [my coming out] hurt him. He and I were really close. We still have a little bit of a friendship.”
Randa's relationship with him was not the only one greatly affected.
“My parents didn't accept it at first. It was harder for my mom because I'm closer to her.”
She says her parents thought something was wrong with her. Now, Randa says she and her mother are good friends.
Randa's parents have since gotten divorced. “It had nothing to do with me or my sexuality,” she says.
Her dad moved out and she says, “He and I have a good relationship because he accepts me as I am because I accept him as he is.”
Randa has also fallen in love, and she says it is a very good relationship. Randa says GLBF was very supportive when she came out.
GLBF is not just for gays and lesbians; it is for gay-friendly people also. Many people like Randa - get a friend to go with them to the meetings.
"It took me a long time to go. I had a lot of problems relating to people. We offer friendship to those who need it. We are there to offer whatever support we can," she says. “We're not there to out [expose] people"
Randa is very excited about October, which is Gay History Month. GLBF will have displays set up in the cases at the information desk in the Colvard Student Union, and it will also have a table in front of the Union on Oct. 12, which is National Coming Out Day.
“I know a lot of people who are new to the group who are just realizing their feelings. I want to do anything I can to help them,” Randa says.
"GLBF encourages the community not to condemn but to understand because love is love no matter what the sex is," she adds.
Ed. Note: The names in this story were changed at the source's request.