By Zoe Cawthon (Kappa Psi, Western Oregon University)
Coming out to other people was something that took me a long time to do, but eventually I gathered enough courage and decided it was time. In the spring of 2020, I started small, with a Snapchat group of about six sisters – my big, the sister who convinced me to join, a sister who always gave me a lot of kind encouragement and a few others who I was pretty positive would be cool about it. I essentially just said, “Hey, I’m pansexual – please don’t out me to anyone else – I just need to tell someone.” Immediately, I got an outpouring of love, and it honestly brought me to tears. Rather than rejecting me or even remaining neutral, they all reached out and told me they loved me and that they were so proud of me. Two of them even disclosed to me about their sexual identities, reassuring me that I wasn’t alone, that there were more of us in the chapter than I might think.
Fast forward to September 2020, I decided to tell a larger group of sisters, including my little and my closest Alpha Chi friend. This was even more nerve-racking because I would have been devastated by either of their rejections. But instead, just as before, I got an immediate outpouring of love. My best friend messaged me, “This doesn’t change my love for you one bit – I’m so happy that you are able to be free.” I also got a text from my little saying, “I just wanted to say I’m really proud of you and really happy that I am one of those people you trusted to share this with. Love you always.” I’m tearing up now just thinking about that day and all that love. All that anxiety I had about talking to any of my sisters about this had pretty much disappeared. On top of all this love, my favorite memory of support came at a different moment, a little bit after having come out. I was in a Zoom meeting with another sister, Shea, who I was giving some refresher training to because she took over my exec position when I graduated. At the end of the call, she asked me for my address. I gave it to her and then kind of forgot about it. Eventually a box arrived from her, and I opened it to find a handmade crochet blanket with the colors of the pansexual pride flag. I’m pretty sure I screamed – I was so excited, and it’s been sitting on my bed ever since!
Overall, I feel lucky. I feel lucky that the bond we all share as Alpha Chis is something that I can count on, and I feel lucky that despite our shortcomings and imperfections, the Kappa Psi chapter is truly a place where I feel loved.