In My Skin: Gay students take pride in sexuality

Winchester freshman Cody Cox came out of the closet when he was a junior in high school. ” I was excited to come to Western because I got to have a clean slate to be who I wanted to be,” he said. “I felt like I was wearing a straight mask before coming out. I now feel more myself.” (Ian Maule/HERALD)

Whitney Allen

In My Skin is a weekly feature series that looks to tell the stories of diverse student populations at WKU. Its goal is to serve as a simple reminder that WKU is location of diversity.


In the early hours of the morning, Cody Cox sat awake in bed contemplating his next move. Surrounded by his sleeping fraternity brothers, Cox decided to listen to what one had told him earlier that night.

In a Jan. 11 Facebook post, Cox, a Winchester freshman, officially announced that he was gay.

“The time has come,” the post read. “It is time that I have finally announced something to everyone. I am gay . . . This is not something that I can say easily, but has become easier as I have grown up. I do not mean to offend anyone at all, however this is who I am.”

While Cox had already told many of his friends and family members, he said those who found out through Facebook were very supportive.

Initially, Cox had been hesitant to become open about his sexuality in high school, but upon coming to WKU he decided he didn’t want to hide who he was anymore.

“For the longest time I battled with that — during MASTER Plan especially,” he said.

In a meeting during MASTER Plan, Cox said a lady asked everyone to stand up and reveal something the floor didn’t know about them.

“I stood up and said I’m gay,” he said. “Literally every single person on my floor stood up and cheered for me. I wasn’t expecting that. That’s one of the highlights.”

Cox said the hardest part of coming to terms with his sexuality personally was being open about it. The path to self-acceptance became easier after he told the first person.

Although Cox feels he can be open on campus, he admits that there are times he feels uncomfort

able and puts on his “straight mask,” such as in a sports bar. But Cox thinks the best way to help others understand what it’s like to be gay are one-on-one talks.

Kristi Branham, assistant professor in Diversity and Community studies, also takes the opportunity to speak with people who don’t agree with her lifestyle when the opportunity presents itself.

“I’m an educator so I go and talk to them,” she said. “I don’t want to fight and I definitely don’t want to live in a way that I’m shaking my fist at people as they go by or nurturing that kind of antagonism.”

Branham says that she tries to be as open about her sexuality as possible for her students because she believes it is helpful for them to see someone who is fearless about her sexuality.

Having mentored several students throughout the years that have struggled with their sexuality or gender, Branham said she admires the students who are brave enough to be open about who they are.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “It’s difficult to keep going when you’re walking into the student building and someone is calling you a faggot in front of everybody else.”

Fort Knox junior Anna Nuckols said she first realized she was a lesbian in high school, and was out to her family and peers by the time she came to WKU. Before making the move to Bowling Green, however, Nuckols said she did some research.

“Before I decided to come to Western, I Googled . . . to see if Western had a ‘gay kids club’ basically, and found Student Identity Outreach,” she said. “(I) thought, ‘Okay, good, got that base covered.’ Just the fact that there’s a group that exists on campus for stuff like this, I think that says a lot.”

Nuckols said her experience as a lesbian on campus has been exceptionally positive.

“I can only think of one instance when something was said to me that I didn’t entirely appreciate,” she said.

“I was walking to class one day . . . and there were guys driving by, and one of them leaned out of the window and yelled ‘go buy a strap on’ really aggressively,” she said, adding that she laughed it off with a humorous retort.

Cox said when he first came to college he expected to be welcomed by a liberal and accepting campus community. He said he soon discovered everyone had their own opinions.

He considered transferring at the end of this semester to a more liberal campus but decided to stay because he wanted to be a part of making it more acceptable to be gay here at WKU.

“I’m glad that at 18 I’m pursuing to be this leader for the gay community so that way more and more people can feel free to be who they are, especially here because it isn’t easy at times,” he said “You just got to be you.”

Cox hopes the student body won’t judge a book by it’s cover.

“When somebody sees me, when they first look at me, they might not get that first thought that I’m gay,” he said. “Then they might hear my voice and think differently.”

“Then they might hear my story and understand ‘God, that kid has gone through hell and back and so have I,” he continued. “He’s no different than me. He’s a human.’”