“I feel like I grew up in the fifties,” Chantel Marostica says of her experience at Kelvin High School. “That’s how much the nineties were very uninviting for gay students.”
Marostica graduated from Kelvin in 2001. At the time she wasn’t aware of any support that the school offered to gay and lesbian students. “There was probably a gay-straight alliance that I just didn’t know about because I was just trying so hard to hide and be straight.”
Marostica didn’t come out as a lesbian until after high school because she was afraid of the reaction from her friends and family.
“I would have had no friends if people knew the truth. Being a lesbian was like the biggest joke when I was in high school, it was like one of those gross things you could joke about.”
She attributes her ability to make people laugh as the reason she was able to befriend people from different social groups at Kelvin.
“I was funny so I just kind of hung out with everybody.”
But humour didn’t compensate for her desire to tell her friends the truth about her sexuality.
“I would have loved to have been out, it just would have made things so much easier.”
Marostica recalls faking interest in the opposite sex to fit in with her girl friends.
“Sexually, high school was like being in grade six. All my friends were dating and having sex and that wasn’t even an option for me. I went out with a guy named Dane, who wasn’t from my high school so that helped.”
Hearing her friends constantly make gay jokes reaffirmed Marostica’s decision to fake interest in boys. She says that her short haircut and boyish clothing made other students suspicious about her sexuality, but she maintained the persona of being straight for fear of being socially ostracized.
“When I ran for president in grade 11, people threw pies at me and my friend Robin, and called us faggots. I got made fun of for being a lesbian all the time,” she says, even though she denied it.
Marostica felt she was lying to herself by pretending to be straight.
“I tried to come out to my friend in grade 12, I told her I was bi because I thought that that would be easier for her to take and she was just like, ‘nope’. After that I just went back in the closet for a couple years.”
Marostica says the prevalence of LGBT issues in the media is making high school easier for Winnipeg students.
“I think suicide (awareness) has made it better for kids. Seeing the extreme of what it’s like to feel so lonely and so judged that you kill yourself has just opened up people’s eyes to the issue.”
She wishes she had been able to come out in high school and hopes that students today feel comfortable expressing the truth about their sexuality.
“It’s very hard because the people you love are saying the most hateful things about who you really are.”
Chantel Marostica is a regular host at Rumors Comedy Club and has performed in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs Montreal, and JFL42. She wrote and starred in her first one woman show “Queer and Present Danger” and is the title holder of “Winnipeg’s funniest person with a day job” and the Sirius XM Manitoba finalist of “Canada’s Top Comic”. She’s opened for Tom Green, Charlie Murphy and most recently for Russell Peters at MTS Centre.