Alternative lifestyle accepted at QU Ellie Wirzburger talks about homosexuality and personal triumphs

By on October 31, 2002

Ellie Wirzburger was a senior in high school when she first had a relationship with another girl. This relationship was sparked by one of her female friends. The two friends ended up dating for nine months.
“She was one of my close friends,” said Wirzburger. “Some of our friends were really good about the relationship. Others were really distant.”
Ellie Wirzburger, a senior psychology major who also minors in theatre, is an open homosexual. She is facing people every day who judge her based on her love preference. However, Wirzburger didn’t always realize her feelings for other women.
“I realized that there was something different about me when I was in the eighth grade,” said Wirzburger. “I just didn’t realize what.”
Throughout her high school years, she dated many guys, but there was always something absent in these relationships.
“I never felt complete,” said Wirzburger. “I always felt I was missing something.”
During her sophomore year of high school, Wirzburger realized she was a lesbian.
At first, she did not know where to turn or who to talk to about her realization. She had many fears about her secret getting out.
“I didn’t tell anyone at this point, because I was afraid. I was scared of losing friends, and I was afraid of being kicked out of my house,” said Wirzburger. “I felt alone in the world.”
To make this feeling disappear, Wirzburger turned to some close friends for support. They had mixed emotions of her coming out.
“Most of my friends were very supportive, but also shocked,” she said. “I lessened the tension by telling them I was bisexual.”
Upon entering college, Wirzburger did not become a part of any alternative lifestyle organizations until her second semester, because she was already involved in a relationship.
When this relationship ended, she wanted to meet new people and ended up joining G.L.A.S.S., the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Supporters Club at Quinnipiac.
Wirzburger became the president of the organization her sophomore year.
During this period, Wirzburger decided it was time to “come out of the closet” to some members of her family.
“I told three out of my five siblings,” she said. “It was very difficult for me and for them. They all had a lot of questions, which came mostly from ignorance.”
Her parents, her older brother and one other sibling still do not know.
“They are slowly putting it together,” she said. “You can tell that they are very upset about it. I plan on putting telling them after I graduate.”
The feeling of her parents not knowing hurts Wirzburger, but she knows there is nothing she can do at this time.
“I get very frustrated, because I can’t be open about my relationships and about my life,” said Wirzburger.
Wirzburger said she is going through a very happy time in her life, however. She is in a one and a half year relationship with a female student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
“I am very happy in my relationship right now,” said Wirzburger. “It is a long distance relationship, so I only get to see her once every two or three weeks. When we are at home, it is easier to see her since we live in the same town.”
But, even at home Wirzburger and her partner cannot be open about their relationship.
“We cannot cuddle or hold hands at my house,” she said. “Her mom treats me differently now that she found out that we are together.”
Wirzburger said both her and her girlfriend’s families are very Catholic, and she feels that is a reason why their relationship may not be as easily accepted.
“The basic view of the Catholic Church is if you act on your feelings, you are going to go to hell,” said Wirzburger. “They expect you to realize your feelings, but not be true to them.”
Wirzburger no longer feels as close to the Catholic Church as she used to because of this issue.
“I believe if you are a good person, you will be rewarded lately,” she said. “It would be silly for God to leave you, just because you loved someone.”
Wirzburger said there are places that will accept people who are living in an alternative type of lifestyle. Organizations like G.L.A.S.S. and the New Haven Gay and Lesbian Center are some of these groups.
Clubs and bars also have gay nights. Gotham, The Bar and Icon have gay nights once a week, while Partners and 168 York Street in New Haven are two examples of gay and lesbian bars in general.
“Just because you come out of the closet doesn’t mean that you have to stay in,” said Wirzburger. “There are places where you can go for support.”
Wirzburger is happy to report that Quinnipiac University is a very accepting campus. It is true that some acts of hatred, such as writing the word “dyke” on a G.L.A.S.S. poster, do occur, she said, but for the most part, everyone at the university promotes the acceptance of alternative lifestyles.
Wirzburger said it is important not to push people who are afraid of coming out. People need to come out when they feel that it is the right time, she said.
“The best thing you can do for someone you suspect is gay, or told you that they are gay, is to be there for them,” said Wirzburger. “Let them know that you are still their friend and that they are not alone.”
She said that when someone first realizes that they are gay they will feel lost and ugly, and the first time they admit it to themselves will be painful.
“For most people, the first time you look into a mirror and say out loud ‘I am gay,’ you will cry, but finally feel complete,” said Wirzburger.
She said there are places where a person can go with his or her family to let them know you are gay.
PLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Gay and Lesbians, is a support group for people who are having problems dealing with the fact that their loved ones choose a life unlike their own.
The closest PLAG in the area is located on 1165 Forest Rd. in New Haven.
“The main thing people have to realize is that being gay is not wrong and it is not a disease,” said Wirzburger. “It is a way of life.”


About Kellie Gleeson