“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” — A College Application Essay

“Give me liberty or give me death,” — those famous words from Patrick Henry became a motto for the Americans who were against British rule during the American Revolution. But when I ask myself if I would rather die if I am not free, would I choose life or death?

For years, I have hidden the truth of my sexuality from society because the consequences might have led me to an early death. I am surrounded by men with pride and honor and if my own father was to know about my homosexuality, an honor-kill might be the result.

My father is a leader of our clan made up of my relatives and is widely known among the community. The news of my homosexuality would degrade my father’s status and possibly isolate my family’s ties with other families.

I remember a time when my father saw a homosexual relative at the airport. My father whispered to my older brother who was standing beside him and said in our native language, “If any of my own children was like that, I would disown them.”

My father is not a mean and overpowering man, in fact, he is quite the opposite — a kind father who cares for everyone. But, in all of us, there are some things in life that can reveal another side of us that is rarely seen. In my father’s case, homosexuality, especially from his own children, is not acceptable.

Although I cannot foresee the future, I can exercise caution by predicting possible outcomes. Death resulted by my homosexuality cannot become reality if danger does not know of me — if I keep quite.

I want to have a family, another man and I living together freely under no rule to hold us apart. But how long can I wear the false lies I tell people? Am I to gamble my life for freedom or am I to seek my salvation in a false image? Am I to tell lies to all those I am to meet who pose a threat? Am I to destroy my father’s pride just to live a selfish life of happiness and freedom? I was not born with the same inalienable rights as others but I can give myself that right if I choose the lines of Patrick Henry. Will I someday say, “Give me liberty or give me death?”

[Designed and written as my Harvard college application essay in 2010. Minor recent changes have been made.]


Data Scientist & Software Engineer & Biologist ~~ linkedin.com/in/marnixmarkgraf/ ~~ github.com/mmmar

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store