A year ago, Jimmy Schleisman stood up in front of his fraternity brothers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and told them that he is gay.
“We’ve got you, man. You do you. We love you no matter what,” his fraternity brothers told him.
In a recent profile in the Daily Nebraskan, Schleisman, now a sophomore, says that as a child he was targeted by bullies, but when he came out in college, he has felt “100 percent support” from his Phi Gamma Delta brothers as well as from the campus community.
“Kids used to beat me up and spit in my food, steal my lunch and make fun of me all the time. I was bullied all throughout grade school,” Schleisman said in a video he posted on YouTube to commemorate his one-year anniversary of coming out.
“When you are told every day that you are worthless and that you don’t deserve to live because you are different, you start to believe it,” he says. “There was a very low point in my life toward the end of grade school where I contemplated suicide multiple times. And I just kept going because as soon as those thoughts entered my mind, I instantly told myself, ‘Life is so much better than this.’”
It’s not the first time Schleisman has overcome adversity. When he was 12, he was injured in a horrific, head-on auto accident that killed both of his parents and his sister.
The bullying persisted when Schleisman returned to school two months later. He says the bullying helped shape his emotions after he came out to his friends and family.
“The best possible way [coming out] could have gone, it did. Having that come out of what I went through as a kid made it more gratifying, because being at rock bottom where everyone is hating you, physically hating you for existing, to going to everyone accepting you and loving you for who you are .... That’s what made a difference for me, that’s why I’m making this video,” he says.
“I want to share with you how something good can come out of something terrible. How our experiences in life help us to become the people we are in the future.”
Watch his inspiring video below:
For more resources to help you along your journey of coming out as LGBT or allied, visit HRC’s Coming Out Center.