The following post was written by Emily Axt, Beta Epsilon–Carroll University, and is part of a month-long series of Pride-focused member stories. 

Going off to college and all it entails is hard enough—but add in being a newly out lesbian trying to feel comfortable in her own skin, and you’re in for a ride. My name is Emily Axt, and that was my reality. 

But let’s take a few steps back so I can tell you how I got there. 

Emily Axt wearing a black mask and white dress. She is holding one red rose and one yellow rose.

I knew I was different from an early age. Growing up, I didn’t understand how girls could crush so hard on boys. I thought it was just what we were told girls were supposed to do. For years, I followed the social norms of wanting a boyfriend because I thought it was my only option.  

It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school I realized I didn’t have to pretend to be straight—I could love who I wanted without it being the end of the world. Despite this realization, I suppressed my feelings for two more years due to internalized homophobia

During my senior year of high school, I finally came to terms with who I am. I accepted there was nothing wrong with being lesbian, and it didn’t make me any less of a person. But even though I found acceptance from within, I was still afraid to tell my friends.  

I waited until I moved across the country for college to tell everyone—thinking if anyone reacted negatively—it wouldn’t be hard to leave them out of my life. Looking back, that wasn’t necessary. 

Emily Axt and another Alpha Gamma Delta member holding the badge. Both women are wearing masks.

Fast forward a few months, and I was finally on campus starting my life in college. I knew I wanted to join a sorority, but I also didn’t want to hide any part of myself. I knew my identity wouldn’t change my qualifications to join, but—in a heteronormative world—it’s hard to go into something knowing you may not be able to be your true self in the end. 

Still, I wanted to find my “forever home.” I ultimately decided to go through recruitment, but I felt like I had to pretend to be straight for my new sisters to accept me.  

Over time, I started to be my truest self. I came out to three of my chapter sisters to test the water. Later, I wore rainbow shoelaces as my subtle hint to everyone else.  

Eventually, I was comfortable enough to feel like it wasn’t something I needed to hide. I told my sisters, and they were all very encouraging and supportive from the moment I told them. Most importantly, they treated me the same as everyone else.  

It means more than anything to have sisters by my side who support me and love me for who I am. 


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