When Brandon Malde-Zoradi recalls high school, he doesn’t remember the dances, sporting events or classes he attended. He remembers the struggle of accepting his homosexuality and an itching desire to shed his skin.
“In high school, I tried to just kind of deny it, not think of it,” Malde-Zoradi said. “I never told anyone… I would hypothetically ask people what they thought, but I never said anything.”
Now a sophomore at SPU, Malde-Zoradi realized he was gay at the age of 12. Though he accepted his sexuality during winter quarter last year, he said that he often feels a sense of tension and discomfort when people in his family or in many Christian communities find out that he is gay.
“My family is Lutheran and I’ve been going to church my whole life,” Malde-Zoradi said. “But I doubted my faith all the same… It had to do with the negative feelings and hostility I got from many of my Christian friends.”
After graduating high school, Malde-Zoradi wanted to go to a college that was open and honest about homosexuality and other LGBT issues.
“SPU was a good pick because they are open to talk about a lot of important issues,” Malde-Zoradi said.
During his freshman year at Seattle Pacific, Malde-Zoradi decided to publicly announce his sexuality after talking with his peer advisor on Sixth West Ashton. After coming out, Malde-Zoradi said that many members of his family distanced themselves from him.
“I lost contact with some… It’s like they just cut me out,” Malde-Zoradi said. “There’s this awkward space between us. They know who I am, and I know their views are against me.”
Though unsettling, Malde-Zoradi said that the support he received from his PA, his floor and his immediate family have been key to gaining back his confidence and feeling confortable in his own skin.
“I feel that the people I choose to spend my time with are all very supportive,” Malde-Zoradi said. “It’s hard knowing that some relatives have cut me out … but at least the people I care about are still here.”
After coming out, Malde-Zoradi said his PA encouraged him to join Haven, an on-campus club devoted to discussing sexuality and LGBT issues.
“The beginning of freshman year was one of my lower points,” Malde-Zoradi said. “But my first time going to Haven … I discovered a place to talk with people who were going through the same struggles as me.”
Malde-Zoradi said that his experience as a gay student living on a Christian campus has helped him to see the different views that Christians have on homosexuality.
“I’d say it was difficult coming out here, but I think it’s better than other Christian schools,” Malde-Zoradi said. “I know people who came out as seniors and others who are still in the closet… It’s difficult no matter where you go.”
At the beginning of this school year, Malde-Zoradi moved off campus into an apartment in Ballard with five friends. After graduation, Malde-Zoradi hopes to earn a master’s degree in psychology and counsel troubled LGBT youth.
Junior Emily Cartmell, a close friend, was one of the first people whom Malde-Zoradi talked to about his sexuality when he came to SPU last year.
“[Before coming out] he seemed torn up and nervous,” Cartmell said. “Now… He’s out and proud. I think that’s amazing.”