AskBistander 1 [Belated]

Getting back into the spin of things. Here is a much much belated Ask Bistander question. ASK BISTANDER POSTS ARE UP EVERY WEDNESDAY!

 

Previous week’s question : How do you know if your love interest is gay, bi, or straight. What do you do, look for, or ask? Here’s a hilarious scene on the L word where the character, Dana, is trying to guess whether the girl she’s interested in  is “playing for their team” so she commissions  the entire L word crew to try to guess via appearance, flirtation, and finding out what she likes.

 

 

So Bistander Readers. What would you do? Answer below.  Make it interesting. Make me laugh. Be honest. ALL ANSWERS ARE ANONYMOUS. It would help though if you could put what sex or sexes you are referring to as every sex is different as well as whatever you identify yourself with, if you want. If you don’t wish to choose a label that’s fine too.  [ Ex: As a gay male referring to men. As bisexual woman referring to other women &  your experiences.]

 

You answered! Thank you all for your responses. Here’s what some of you wrote!

 

Person 1:

  • My sex: Female
    My gender: Mostly feminine
    My orientation: Mostly gay, therefore alluding to womenHow to tell if someone is gay:
    Yell, “LOOK, IT’S KATHERINE MOENNIG!” and if she goes, “Oh my god, where?!” then you know.Ok, here is my highly general, highly stereotypical guide to the ‘dar:0) The clothes, the hair, and/or the walk. They may not all combine together to form the ultimate butch trifecta, but perhaps she has one small chink in her otherwise hetero-normative chainmail. I dress pretty femininely, and my hair is mid-neck, but I apparently have a slight awkward/gay swag, as random gangstas once told me on Jamaica Avenue.

    1) Pay attention to any stickers, pins, ribbons adorning her body, her outfit, her bag, or her notebooks…. anything rainbow-y or feminist or generally progressive.

    2) Pay attention to what she says in class (though this will depend on the class); perhaps her views and even the cadences in her voice will offer insight. I’m not saying everyone who is progressively-minded is gay, but they’re probably a better bet.

    3) If she has any friends walking with her to/from class or any friends within the class, how does she interact with them, and how do her friends act/dress (this is stereotypical, I know, but since we don’t know her, we only have outward appearances).

    4) If you happen to have a conversation with her, you can feel her out by possibly injecting some sociopolitical commentary and gauging her responses (both verbal and behavioral).

    5) If you see her at LGBTQ-friendly events, she’s either an ally or one of the team.

    6) After getting to know her for a little bit by having several rousing and not-totally-all-about-the-gay conversations, invite her to a slightly queer event. If she seems genuinely interested in attending, or if she seems in her element while at the event, she’s also either an ally or one of the team.

Person #2

How do you know if your love interest is gay, bi, or straight. What do you do, look for, or ask?

  • Gee, that’s a good question. Considering Im a female that pays high regard to other females I normally do look at other…. Females. When I see a woman I normally look at the position they’re standing/ sitting. I look at the clothes their wearing and the way they put their hair. Sometimes by a simple glare you can feel the tension. Ask what their favorite show is! ask what they like to do! There are many stereotypical styles for homosexual women. Look for rainbow bracelets, lamguage, some musicians etc. Those things help :)As for male, men in my opinion have these hand movements that are just so obvious. Even “manly” men fo them from time to time. I don’t particularly like men so judging their appearance is hard to know if they too- lik men. Look for the area and atmosphere of where you see a man, the accompany and the walk.

Person #3

Sex: Female

Orientation: Mainly attracted to other women

1) Appearance. Sad I know but sometimes right off the bat you can tell if they’re wearing a wifebeater, army pants and buzzcut…pretty likely they’re not straight . Same goes for any rainbow-wear

2) body language…some girls even the very femme ones[ noticed in gay and lesbian organizations] walk…lean or sit a certain way [ again stereotypical and definitely not always! …but it happens…see it alot]

3. What topics is she interested in…what’s her major or minor…Alot of  feminists, Women Studies majors…sociology majors focusing on genders and sexuality etc are gay…not always but with the ones i’ve met and known nearly 90% of the time.

3) What places does she go? Where does she hangout? If she mentions a well known lesbian or gay place aha eureka

4) Mention something of LGBTQI origin and watch how they react or their body language to it

5) EYE CONTACT…not always true with shy girls but there are times when there’s a certain look or connection with eye contact that you can just know off the bat…. whether it’s held longer than normal or there’s a look…or a checking you out look

6) What organizations are is she apart of? If I hear glasa, hopefully? Still need to know more.

7) Watch her when she’s around people of the same sex….is it friendly or more…..

But most importantly, talk to them and get to know them before jumping the gun.

Person #4

You’ll never know without talking to them. You find out what the person likes and dislikes and basically getting to know them as a whole.

 

Thank you for all your responses!! Old answers are now gone and there are two new questions for future posts.

Next question  that was suggested will be this wednesday at 12 am.

That’s next Wednesday!

Didn’t get to answer this question? What are your views? Do you agree or disagree? Or even if you’re heterosexual, what would be some ways you or anyone around you show their interest in someone from afar or in person?

 

Til Soon!

1 comment February 27, 2012

I’m back and Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

Models: my kittens/ Happy V-day!

I’m back! Happy Valentine’s day everyone! I hope you’re all well, and cuddling with that special someone and know that even if you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend/ significant other, your special someone or someones could be a family member, a great friend, your cat, Caramel [ one of my future cat names for the win!], or the most important person of all, YOU. Valentine’s day is a day of love and expression of that love whether that’s true love between two people, it’s the unconditional love of mother and child or self love by pampering you or the love you feel after doing something nice for someone else.

Although valentine’s day is over, here are some things that I feel you can do for the remainder of the week or tomorrow or next year, even if you’re not in a passionate relationship with your other half.

1.  My personal favorite…Make a delicious dessert! Today I made homemade chocolate pudding. Jealous? You should be! It was delicious and only took under 5 minutes! Here’s a link to the recipe! http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/02/best-chocolate-pudding/ If you don’t like chocolate, make anything you want? My favorite recipe site is www.foodgawker.com. It’s about you, so give yourself many foodgasms. You deserve it!

Chocolate pudding...Yum!

2. Do something nice for someone else. Volunteer at a hospital, make cupcakes, draw paintings or bring a smile to someone’s face. I mean, take a note from the Bieber who brightened this little girl’s day!

Bieiber meets adoring 6 year old fan battling cancer!

3.  Pop in your favorite movie. Maybe a romance film, the Lord of the Rings, the L word, Queer as Folk, or your favorite LGBT film?

Film: Room in Rome

4. TREAT YOURSELF! Give yourself a spa treatment. Condition your hair. Do your nails.Read that book you always wanted. [ I suggest the Hunger Games] Paint something. Dance in your underwear. Play a video game. Eat a huge bowl of ramen. Masturbate. I don’t care. Do you what you want.

5.  Be with friends or family. Have a dance party. Eat. Have a fun girls night! Guys: Have a video game night or a fun night with the guys or all your friends. Point is to do what you want, without stress and have fun.

 

6.  Go to a museum or a show. I’m a big fan of www.stagebuddy.com. Type in what you want to see, where you are in nyc, your price range and when you want to go and there you have it. A long list appears with possible places to see.

Or… spend time with your friends in GLASA QC.  We’re seeing Rocky Horror on the 24th! Details on the Glasa facebook group page!

7. Do something new! Try rockclimbing or skydiving! Or if you’re less daring try your hand at crochet or knitting or painting. Who knows…you could be the next michaelangelo.

 

8. Sleeep. Really? Who doesn’t enjoy sleep?

 

9. Dream lots and Dream big. Think about where you want to go in life and what you’ll do to get there.

10.  Play with your cat or dog. I’m sure they’ll love the attention!

Lessons learned : 1) Forget all this “I’m so alone on Valentine’s day”, “Single Awareness day”..& “Why am I single??” crap. 2) Best love is self love! 3) Spend your night with the beautiful you. Because if you don’t love yourself first, how can you expect someone else to? 4) There are many types of love to be celebrated than just the love within a relationship.

And with that I hope everyone had a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY whether you’re in a relationship or single! ♥

So what did all of you do this Valentine’s day?

Next Post: Pariah

Til Soon!

4 comments  Tagged:  , , , , , , February 15, 2012

Okcupid = The best kept lesbian secret

 


What was once viewed as taboo simply isn’t so anymore as we see more and more people flocking to online dating. Especially lesbians or any LGBT. However,  if you could get one to admit to it, …well that’s another story. Actually I feel like I’m breaking a code just by writing about it. As you enter deeper into the lesbian world, you notice a few things and online dating is definitely one them. Of course this doesn’t prove true for everyone but pretty often. But hey, have some respect here. Finding other lesbians isn’t always easy, especially if not every lesbian or bisexual woman is easy to point out.

Whatever it is you’re attracted to, the internet provides you with a large pool of a variety of people. Whether you’re interested in girls who love Glee or a Kate Moenning look a like or a Miss America model  or someone with a passion for helping the disadvantaged.

Common phrases used by a couples who have dated online. “ We met at a random public event or place” or “ we share a common friend who none of us speak to anymore”. Or the confused tacit agreeing nod before answering the dreaded question.

The reason for this post isn’t to out online users but to simply say there’s nothing wrong with it. The point of dating is fun so have fun!  If you’re thinking about it and unsure, try it.  Really…what have you got to lose?

 

 

The following is taken from Autostraddle [ A popular lesbian blog]

 Autostraddlers on OKCupid Exhibiting Specialness
with cartoons by Intern Hot Laura!

 

Your self-summary:

1. “I’m awesome.”

You’re really good at:

you grew lettuce

1. “Picking breakfast places.”

2. “Doing shots.”

3. “Standing in third position.”

4. “Being the big spoon.”

5. “Growing lettuce.”

6. “Calling you back a day too late.”

7. “Accidentally pooping out of nowhere and startling people. [I meant to write popping out of nowhere, but this typo is so funny I’m leaving it].”

8. “Quoting Margaret Cho.”

The first things people usually notice about you:

1. “Dat azz, man.”

2. “The inability to cover my cleavage.”

3. “My snake bites.”

Your favorite food:

1. “Anything + Everything – Chicken Feet = Food.”

The six things you could never do without:

1. “My fingers.”

2. “Weed.”

you have red boots

3. “At least one enemy- because nothing motivates like opposition.”

4. “Red cowgirl boots.”

5. “Something to write with, a good (light, sharp) chef’s knife, a lip/cheek stain in a nice dark pink, love, GPS. It would be more romantic to say “maps”, but fuck that.”

6. “Cashew nuts.” [Ed. note — hell yes]

7. “You’d be surprised how often clothing is optional.”

You spend a lot of time thinking about:

1. “What I am going to eat next.”

2. “What I can put on this profile to make people like me.”

3. “Re-making Thelma & Louise so that they make out at the end.”

4. “Whether my keys are locked in the car, I left my phone frying in my front seat, or I’ve lost anything yet today.”

On a typical Friday night you are:

1. “Finding a place to put all these dead bodies.”

2. “If you present remotely masculine of center I’m spending Friday night looking at your butt.”

The most private thing you’re willing to admit:

your leg was broken

1. “I hate Bette.”

2. “For the first 7 or so years of my life, I would have preferred being a dog to being a human. Like I would drink water from a bowl on the floor and bark at people.”

3. “The red hair is fake.”

4. “Sometimes when I kiss my dog he licks me on the mouth and I don’t even mind.”

5. “I broke my leg while streaking. No, I didn’t get to ride in an ambulance naked.”

6. “I only run with things figuratively; you can make me laugh but I will probably still not jog with you.”

We should message you if:

1. “You are interested in glow in the dark mini golf.”

2. “You don’t have unresolved mental illness.”

3. “You are left handed.”

4. “You want someone to dance poorly next to you somewhere in the Castro.”

5. “You are illiterate, but were able to find the ‘Wild Party’ reference in my ‘about me’ section.”

6. “Will marry you if you get it when I use the pickup line “Hello Sue, I’ve got legs! Do you like bread?”

7. “You make a good grilled cheese.”

 

Have you guys every tried online dating? Do you know couple that have? What did you get out of it? Would you consider it?  Were they good experiences? Bad experiences? 

 

Funniest thing I’ve  seen okc:

STD in their usernames… : Gonorrhea_rita  [ not the real username. Just an example]

 

Til soon!

 

 

2 comments  Tagged:  , , December 8, 2011

Love takes many forms

2 comments November 19, 2011

“ YOU came out… to your parents?!” “What? Like it’s hard?”

To facetiously imitate Elle Wood in legally blonde.  Of course it is! If you’re LGBTQI, part of the difficulties that come along with it is coming out to your parents, which is in my opinion MUCH more difficult than coming out to your peers and friends. With peers and friends if they don’t approve of your lifestyle or tease you it can be easy to brush it off  and to not give a rat’s ass or can affect you less than telling the people who’ve known you your entire life as a straight individual and have hopes, dreams and expectations of you. The idea that you, their precious gift of sunshine, could possibly shatter those dreams could be a bit intimidating and could also cause many people to choose not to come out ‘til they move out or much later in life.

To update on news with me, I had recently come out to my parents. To my mom at least. It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t something I had planned to do at this point in time.  Did I feel scared? Hell yes.  To cover my feelings I had felt alone, scared, cornered, confused, suddenly tonguetied and you can probably throw in  fucked over big time, pardon my french, and couple other choice words.

So how did this go down Ash? What exactly happened? The  other day, coming home from at 8 pm after a long day of hanging out with friends I walked into a dark house with the exception of my mom’s light being on. Apparently my brother was out at basketball practice and my dad was still at work.

I walked into my Mom’s room to say a casual “ Hey I’m home. Can we order pizza?” My mom looked at me seriously for a moment and asked  “Ashley can I ask you a question?” I was suddenly scared and responded, “yes…?” My mom then asked “ Are you in a lesbian relationship?” Of course my reaction as a person not being ready to come out at that present moment was  “ What? Why are you asking me this? I’m not in a relationship. I’m single.” She slowly said “ I’ve noticed many instances and hints that you might be a lesbian or bisexual. Are you lying to me?” My heart started to beat fast. “ Instances like what?” My mom said “ Well, you left you computer once and I saw  a conversation that looked strange,  I found writing in your room. [ writing…my blog topics on a sheet of paper…not smart of me I know]…” I froze as she continued to list different instances she noticed and I denied everything. I said I was a gay supporter and have a lot of gay friends. Doesn’t necessarily mean I’m gay. She then told me “ Ashley I know when you’re lying. I’ve known you from birth. You smile and your lips quiver when you lie” I simply said “ I also smile when it’s awkward. This is awkward.”

A few minutes later I went to my room to change out of my clothes, when what I really did was run to my laptop, turn on aim and  to  send out an S.O.S signal.  On my bed I saw a paper, which I’ve never seen in quite some time but I do remember writing it.  It was labeled the days of the week, Monday through Friday, with a list of blog topics, plans for bistander and at least 10 phrases with gay and lesbian on it all over the page. I was horrified. I rapidly instant messaged my friend who was on a bus in Boston at the time, “ I need your help! My mom asked me if I’m gay, for real this time and I don’t know what to do. I’m not ready to come out.”  My friend managed to calm me down and told me, “well it was bound to happen eventually.”

I had two options: 1) I could let  my mom think what she wants and say nothing or I could sit down and tell it to her straight [gay]. Which was what I did.  I changed my clothes. Pulled on my Pratt sweatshirt hoodie, which then felt like armor and said in a strong, calm voice,  “ Mom, I don’t like men. I prefer women and I don’t think that’s abnormal and I’d hope you’re not disappointed and don’t love me any less.”  Momma Ash was a tough cookie. She said that she was not disappointed but wished  an easier life for me in a straight relationship because the world isn’t accepting yet, that I’m safe sexually and take precautions because in her eyes in the gay world everyone is promiscuous, which is true at times but not necessarily true.

Due to the false ideas of the media, I had to clear up a few things:

Just because  I prefer women that doesn’t mean:

  1. I am not the same person I’ve always been
  2. That I’m attracted to every girl I see. Sorry straight women.
  3. That I’m promiscuous as depicted in the media
  4. That I’ll never get married
  5. That I’ll never have children
  6. That I won’t practice safe sex
  7. That I won’t have a fulfilling life
  8. That I won’t have a safe life
  9. That I can’t be monogamous
  10. That I’m oblivious to the increased discrimination
  11. That I’m scared of discrimination
  12. That I’m any less of a person
  13. That I can’t choose who I love and openly be with who I love

I’m pleased to say the talk went very well. I would say I could’ve done with the explaining how lesbian sex is different and what dental dams are…but hey. It helps that I am more knowledgeable  and a stronger person than I was a year ago when I first realized I was gay and it made me feel grateful for what I have, this blog, and my friends.  I didn’t cry surprisingly. My mom teared up a bit. However, she also recommended gender studies books for me to read that she found very interesting. She also knows about this blog now and is proud of me. Hasn’t read it yet. But I feel more inspired.  It’ll take some time for her to adjust and for it to settle in and it’ll take time for me to adjust to being open with my mom but I’m glad. My brother and dad don’t know yet. With my dad I’m sure it’ll be tougher. He’s less gay supportive and friendly. We’ll see how that goes. Thank you everyone for reading and for continually reading despite my absences at times.

And I hope that when you come out to your parents it goes just as well, if not better and that you come out when you’re ready in the best way you feel fit. Also I feel it’s important to give them time to adjust.  It will be shocking whether you get a positive response or not. You just dropped the ball on them with something huge in your life. Give them time. With me, I would accidently drop hints. I’m not great at being incognito…at all. But if you choose to come out and want it to be less surprising beforehand, you could always purposely drop hints. It’ll make telling them that much easier.

 

What would you have done being in my situation? Would you have done the same thing at this present time? Or would you have let my mom think what she wanted and waited? I can say that I definitely feel less stressed, like a weight has been lifted even though I’ve yet to speak to my dad.  I’m sure that will present itself in time and hopefully my mom will be there to help me.

7 comments  Tagged:  , , November 19, 2011

LGBTQ….I? Intersex Awareness

 

Intersex Awareness Day was last week and it was brought to our attention by a queens college student who stressed it’s importance and why we should take notice of it. Since many of us knew very little on the subject, I felt compelled to research and talk about it. What does it mean to be intersex [otherwise known as hermaphrodite]? Why it’s so important and why  should it be LGBTQI verses LGBTQ?

The Intersex Society of America defines Intersex as :

“….a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.”

A person may be born with the anatomy of both a male and a female. Or a person may have an external female anatomy but an internal male anatomy. Or a person may have an unusually large clitoris or small penis with a scrotum resembling a labia. Also genetically, a person who is considered intersex could have chromosomes of both XX and XY. Whatever the definition, just as there is a spectrum of various sexual identities, there’s also a spectrum of gender and not just male vs. female.

What’s more, surprisingly, individuals could also not know that they’re intersex until they reach puberty, find themselves to be an infertile adult. Some, believe or not, could go through their entire lives without themselves or anyone knowing about their intersex anatomy.

Growing up we learn to associate certain organs and traits of the anatomy with male or female for example, breasts, penises, gonads, scrotum, vagina, clitoris all of which vary in size and shape per individual. These are traits each placed into two categories, one or the other and no room for in between. But who decides these categories? Nature? or Humans themselves? We do. From birth and through every aspect in our life, be it or birth certificate, applying for college, filling out the about me on facebook, we have to make a choice between the two. What seems effortless to us, for many, intersex and  transgender, a broad umbrella word for any person who transgresses societal norms of traditional gender roles and stereotypes which by definition includes many gays, lesbians, feminists,  individuals, this isn’t so easy.

 

However the struggle doesn’t stop here. Often times when parents find that their child is intersex or born with characteristics, they “correct” this “error” and choose a sex for the child–believing that they’re helping the child and making his or her life easier. This, is extremely detrimental move to make and often leaves the child damaged psychologically and emotionally. Imagine if you were placed into a gender and you grew up feeling out of place because you feel you should be something else? Or imagine taking a shower and looking down at your genitalia…wishing it could’ve been  different. It’s not the life of the parent but the life of the child and only they themselves can know what gender they want to be and when they are ready to choose if they want to.

Many intersex, transgender children face the same issues of those in the LGBTQ community and are often bullied, bashed and misunderstood by society, their family and sometimes the LGBT community itself.

Last semester gender neutral bathrooms were brought to the Queens College campus. This gives individuals the option of not having to segregate themselves into bathroom if they choose not to. To quote the Knight News:

These restrooms are single- stalled, with one toilet and sink and come equipped with a lock to ensure privacy. The pictorial label on the outside depicts both the traditional male and female pictures found outside of gender-segregated bathrooms, some being wheelchair accessible.

These bathrooms can be found in single stalled bathrooms in Jefferson Hall, King Hall and Fitzgerald Gymnasium.

 

So what can we do? We could educate others we know at our schools, work and families. The cause for hate is often ignorance. Word of mouth goes a long way. The more others know,  the more tolerant they are of others.

The student that spoke to us,  also mentioned an event on transgender, intersex individuals at QC so I’ll be sure to update this post once I find out. If you are the person who informed us of intersex awareness last week, could you please comment below on the event details? We thank you so much! :]

 

 

 

12 comments October 31, 2011

ASK BISTANDER SERIES #2: Interactive posts

This week’s question and post is up to YOU, the readers, and your fellow queens college students. This is a chance to share your responses and hear from your peers. I’m excited about this and hoping we have more of these. So let’s make this a successful  chapter to add to the blog.

So what is the question this week?  It’s actually a dating, relationship question which I hear  lot among  my LGBT friends and being LGBT of course everyone goes through this at some point. Don’t deny it guys. This week’s question : How do you know if your love interest is gay, bi, or straight. What do you do, look for, or ask? Here’s a hilarious scene on the L word where the character, Dana, is trying to guess whether the girl she’s interested in  is “playing for their team” so she commissions  the entire L word crew to try to guess via appearance, flirtation, and finding out what she likes.

 

So Bistander Readers. What would you do? Answer by clicking the link  below. NOT IN THE COMMENTS! Make it interesting. Make me laugh. Be honest. ALL ANSWERS ARE ANONYMOUS. It would help though if you could put what sex or sexes you are referring to as every sex is different.

Also, If you have a question also for future Ask Bistander Series. Please also post that here as well:

 

Ask Bistander Series Responses

 

I might also include my own answer later  if you want an example. :]

Thank you all for your responses. I look forward to reading them~

3 comments  Tagged:  , , , October 26, 2011

“I’m a girl who likes girls”

It’s midterm and flu season and 50 degrees in NYC  and lucky me I was one of those with the flu and hectic schedule. Apologies again for the delayed posts mes cheries.

On the Wednesday of October 12, I attended my first Coming Out day at Queens College. Upon entering the dining hall, and motioning my way towards the back room, I looked towards the stage to see a large rainbow flag  tacked to the stage wall, and a podium dawned in the pride flag, found a seat and sat there and listened to my peers and professors.  I sat there and listened. Listened to stories of those coming out, those not coming out, being a straight lgbt supporter, being a Captain Jack Harkness omnisexual [as a Doctor Who fan that made smile], being a girl who loves girls, being bisexual, being pansexual, being queer, and just about every spectrum of the rainbow.  Some stories made me laugh and  some even made me tear a bit. Some wrote poems, some told a story. For that one hour and a half I was captivated and touched by every one of them.

Since I didn’t have anything prepared and didn’t feel I had much to say, as I never came out to my parents or experienced anything negative, initially I wasn’t going to speak at Coming Out Day but ended up feeling compelled to  do so last minute on a whim. Although my speech was all over the place,  it felt great being up there, sharing about myself and meeting the many voices  that I had heard that day.

Photo borrowed from GLASA page

Photo Borrowed from GLASA Page, Jacques Robert, GLASA President

Photo Taken from GLASA Page

Photo taken from GLASA page

One particular voice and speech that caught my attention and even caused me to shed a tear was that of  Noam Parness who spoke about the hardships of being queer in the Orthodox Jewish Community. I asked if I could share his speech with you  all and I hope you are all inspired as much as I was.

 

Photo borrowed from GLASA, Noam Parness, Vice President

You see this on my head? This is my “kippah,” or yarmulke––a signifier within the Jewish religion of faith, and of community. I remember buying this when I was studying in Israel for the year, and I thought it was fairly adorable–who wouldn’t want a cute kippah with a biblical scene from the story of noah’s ark, right? So I bought it, and wore it on my walk back to school. When I walked in and greeted my friends, I decided to point out my new article of clothing, my beautiful new kippah. My friends smiled and laughed, thinking it was very cute. But they were also laughing because the scene from noah’s ark that was depicted, had a rainbow. “I didn’t know they made pride kippahs”, my friend exclaimed, with a slight chuckle not quite hidden beneath his words. Sure, I laughed. I was a closeted eighteen year old Orthodox Jewish boy, living in an all boys seminary, where anything remotely gay was seen as funny, and occasionally as derogatory. Sure I laughed. Did it pain me so much at the time? Not really, I just let the comment slide off my shoulder, hiding beneath the guise provided by my heternormative surroundings.

But now. NOW I realize how much pain that comment caused me. How much internal struggle it caused, how many nights crying to a God that never responded, how many times I screamed into my pillow hoping for some kind of transformation, if not of myself, than of society at large. I didn’t have this family we call GLASA then. If I did, things would have been different. If I had grown up seeing, visibly acknowledging, that being gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or queer was something in every community… my god, how different would my early youth have been.

Exactly one year ago, I was sitting right there, in this exact circle, between my best friend Dasi, and a boy named Jacques who I had never met. One year ago, though I’m sure most people knew on some level—I was not out at all, except to my four friends, and my parents. And them, I’d only told a month beforehand. The person you see today is an extremely different person than the one who sat here exactly one year ago.  But I remember just a week or two before coming out day last year, there was a major string of suicides of LGBTQ youth that was covered in the media. These are not people I ever met, these are not people I even remotely cared about on a personal level. But they were people. They were folks who should have been granted the respect and dignity by their surroundings just like you and I are today. And I remember after hearing about these kids, all I could think about was how coming out could change all of this. How visibility could lead to acceptance and integration. How no child, or adult, would ever have to go through the pain that many LGBTQ peoples have gone through while growing up.

But last year, I was too afraid. I mustered up the courage to sit in the second row, at most, and hugged those around who shared their stories. They were so inspiring, so brave. I, was frightened. But this past year, with the acceptance of my friends and family, and most importantly, this family (GLASA), I can honestly say that I am a proud and loud Queer Jew, and noone can tell me otherwise.

This is why I am coming out.

I am coming out, first and foremost, for myself. To live a life of honesty and integrity, and to tell the world that I can live how I’d like, that I can love another man if I want, and that I can gender bend–and noone will get hurt.

I am coming out to the orthodox Jewish community on this campus to tell you that I’m gay, and grew up Orthodox. So the next time you say “that’s so gay” at prayer services, or in your yeshiva day schools, PLEASE think again. Because just as importantly, I am coming out for the closeted queer Jews in my community who are too afraid, to tell themselves, and those around them, about who they are. We are in your synagogues, your yeshivas, your summer camps. Do not pretend we don’t exist, because THAT is exactly the reason why I had to endure painfully hiding in the closet for years, and why so many others have, and still do, as well.

I am coming out for anyone whose environment keeps them from announcing who they feel they are, in fear that they will be disdained, shunned, or even disowned. To tell them that society does change, that they too can have the freedom to be whomever they’d like, and to love whomever they love, without constriction from others.

I am coming out because for some reason, LGBTQ people still don’t have equal rights, and the very least I can do is lead by example. To tell people that it’s not ok if my workplace fires me simply because of my sexual orientation or gender identity. To tell them that, if I so choose, I can marry whomever I’d like, or not marry whomever I’d like. To say that my rights as a citizen in this country should have NO dependency upon the gender of my lover, or whatever gender I choose to be (or choose not to be).

I am coming out, because in NYC, LGBTQ youth are eight times more likely to experience homelessness and, in this country, are four times more likely to commit suicide.

I’m coming out because transgender and gender non-conforming people still face injustice all the time: at home, in school systems, in the workplace, at the grocery store, in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, before judges and at the hands of landlords, police officers, and health care workers.

But really, I am coming out, so that we can all eventually live in a world where coming out will be deemed unnecessary. A world where the closet will no longer exist, and where freedom of sexual and gender expression will be taken for granted.

So today, I stand here with pride and with shame. Proud of who I am, proud of the accomplishments I and our community have made, but ashamed to be living in a country that still has yet to recognize the equal rights of its citizens.

But there is hope. With each speech you hear today, with each face that smiles at you from this microphone, a difference is being made. Equality is on the horizon, but we must continue striving for it. Because as we all know, after the floodwaters recede, a rainbow will appear.

Thank you

— speech by Noam Parness, student, Queens College

I’m proud of you Noam!

What did you guys think when you heard  Noam’s speech? What’s your coming out story? You could come out as gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, lesbian,  a human, anything. Or share your support for those that do come out.

 

 

9 comments October 24, 2011

Ask Bistander Series #1 How do you know if you’re Gay or Bi?

I apologize for my absence. Couple of things…First HAPPY COMING OUT DAY!  Coming Out Day will be celebrated by QC on October 12th this Wednesday in the Klapper Circle. I’m excited because I’ve yet to hear  coming out stories by my qc peers so it’ll be an amazing experience. See you there! Post regarding that ahead. Also in other news,  I’m introducing this new series called ” Ask Bistander” to you guys featuring questions asked on this blog. If you’d like to ask a question, you could post them on the ask bistander/ask QC  page above and if it’s something I can answer I will or I can ask QC students in the lgbt community. Depending on the question, it just might be a new blog topic so ask away!

Ask questions page here!


This seemed like the perfect topic to start off  with. How do you know if you’re Gay or Bi? As we mature and age and become our own person, we learn more about ourselves and the relationships and people around us.  We discover more about our personalities, likes and dislikes, and yes even sexuality. Sometimes we may feel an attraction or curiousity around the same sex and then are taken back when we start to question ourselves.  THIS IS NORMAL! This is something that is usually referred to as experimenting. Why? Because you’re doing just that. You’re experimenting with your sexuality and fulfilling a curiosity you have.  So when you kiss a girl while you’re drunk at your best friend’s party or fool around with your buddy with the sports locker room in college, this doesn’t necessarily make you gay or bisexual. It’s more common among the straight crowd than you think. Which brings me to my next vocabulary word of the day. Bi-curious.  This term refers to exactly what it implies. It is when an individual is curious about being with the same sex and is either thinking of experimenting or is doing so already.

So how do you know you’re gay or bi as opposed to straight? It’s when you have both a physical/sexual attraction to members of the same sex as well as an emotional attraction to the same sex. Let me explains these points further. By attraction, this includes not only finding them physically attractive, but also infatuation, having butterflies in your stomach or your heart beats faster around them, and wouldn’t mind being with them sexually.  Emotional attraction, additionally plays a role, meaning you can imagine yourself being in a relationship with that person.  If you don’t have these two elements then you’re probably just curious. Again, completely normal.



Now, when you’re bisexual, you feel attracted both sexually and emotionally to both sexes. Some would say this is 50:50. But I disagree. Someone who is bisexual could also be attracted mainly to women but some men or mainly to men but occasionally a woman both physically attracted and emotionally.

There are also bisexuals that are in relationships with the same sex the majority of the time but evidently end up marrying someone of the opposite sex. These are referred to as Temporary Bis or, quoting the L word, Hasbians, individuals who were once gay but now they’re in a straight relationship. Unfortunately for the other bisexuals, gays and lesbians, this dawns the phrase “ it’s just a phase”, which is what is told by parents, friends, and people around them where they say, “ It’ll pass…You’ll get over it”. And annoying as it is, the fact of the matter is for the majority of the population it is just a phase. This fact also makes it harder on bisexuals to be taken seriously by gay and straight individuals. But hey, although there are some bisexuals that are temporary, that isn’t necessarily everyone. Don’t generalize. And remember that sexuality is a spectrum. One could potentially argue that no one is completely straight or gay. It’s not black and white and it’s constantly evolving, growing and changing.

Another point to bring up, as this happens a lot but specifically lesbians when coming out, is that often lesbians first test the waters if you will by initially saying they’re Bisexual. [Guilty as charged]. For example with me I dated men in the past. Why? Because I thought nothing of it. It was what you did. Also in many cases you may believe that you’re bisexual but later on you discover you are in fact gay.

Also, there is no set time for realizing that you are straight, gay, or bi. Some are fortunate to know when they’re young, some find out in their 20s and teens, and some realize in their 50s and later on in life. It all depends on the individual.

Also I might add, you don’t necessarily have to label yourself if you choose not to. Many  individuals decide to call themselves queer, or gay, or pansexual or bisexual simply due to the fact that they refuse to squeeze themselves into the lines of gay or straight. Society may ask you to label yourself but evidently it’s YOU that makes the decision.

 

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? What advice would you give to someone who’s questioning or unsure?

See you at Coming Out Day!

 

P.S. Stay tuned for topic #2: How to tell if your love interest is gay or straight and a post on Coming Out Day QC!

 

5 comments October 11, 2011

Jamey Rodemeyer

“As if she couldn’t make this weekend’s post any more depressing?”  I know, I know but this is something I feel compelled to bring up. Recently another child, a mere  fourteen year old boy by the name of Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life by after being bullied for being gay.

Jamey Rodemeyer Story CNN

It pains me whenever I hear this because unlike most teens, many LGBT kids who are in the closet especially are on their own and they have no one to turn to. It is sad that although there are so many gay icons in the media such as tv stars, musicians, and political figures, children are still taking their own lives.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

13 comments September 27, 2011

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