Photo by Prescott Watson.

Corrections

In the original version of this story, UCSC student Morgan Mathias was referred to in male pronouns. Identifying as feminine-of-center, Mathias’s gender pronoun is ‘she’. This post was updated on October 26 to reflect this change.

Morgan Mathias is alert, easygoing, and out. In a light blue scoop neck, an ivory spiral-shaped necklace and silver nail polish, she discloses everything — or more precisely, everything she knows thus far.

“You never really stop coming out. The first couple of times, you grit your teeth and do it. But it never really stops. There’s always new people in your life and new assumptions,” she says, “and your identity also develops over time … there’s too many flavors of it for words.”

Raised in Thousand Oaks, Los Angeles, Mathias was deeply closeted prior to college. She initially dated women, and began to identify as bisexual in her senior year.

“High school was really the process of coming out to myself,” she remembers.

In community college, Mathias came out to her close friends as gay. She joined the gay-straight alliance there, though she rarely bothered to specify whether she was a queer ally or a straight ally.

“If people asked me, I wasn’t going to beat around the bush,” she said, “but maybe half of the people just thought I was [a straight] ally.”

Moving into the dorms changed things for Mathias. Normal, everyday aspects of her life were much more public domain than before, and she didn’t see the point in hiding anymore.

“Day one, I was out as queer, and I spent that year immersed in the queer culture up here,” she said.

She found the Cantù Queer Center and pledged Delta Lambda Psi, a Greek frarority founded at UC Santa Cruz.

She also came out to her parents last year.

First her mom, while they were in the middle of an argument. She had commented on the transformations she perceived in her daughter, and alluded to a suspicion of heavy drug use. That was too much for Mathias.

“I was like Mom, I’m not on drugs — I’m gay,” she laughs, “and later that day I came out to my dad.”

Despite how it came up, Mathias remembers that coming out to her parents went smoothly. She’s been fortunate enough to have her orientation received positively elsewhere as well.

Mathias attributes the success of her experience at Santa Cruz to the combination of many elements here, and hopes to live in similarly queer-friendly communities upon graduating.

“For the queer students,” she advises, “if you haven’t realized what an incredible, safe, and encouraging space Santa Cruz on the whole is, realize it, and take advantage of it while you’re here. You would be hard-pressed to find as safe a space for any kind of queer people.”

At UCSC, Mathias believes that she is still coming into her self as queer, and her identity will likely evolve further.

“Gay people have identities and straight people have identities, which are way more than just ‘I’m straight’,” she points out. “Nobody can be reduced to just one facet of their personality.”

 

About the Series: Coming Out

October is LGBT History Month. In honor of the month, City on a Hill Press sat down with members of the LGBT community to hear their coming-out stories and insights into what it means to be queer and questioning in 2011.