More on being out on campus

ASTUDENTS_WE_C_^_WEDNESDAY

If you decide to be out while you are at college, you should really consider how out you are going to be. For instance, are you going to be a student who just happens to be gay? Or are you going to be a student who attends rallies, forms organizations, and builds a reputations as being a LGBT activist? Obviously there are a million different variations on this, but it is a question you should give some thought.

Regardless of what degree of particular LGBT focused activity you decide to participate in, you should be aware that people will probably hear about your pronounced sexual orientation, and as a result, your reputation may proceed you on that point. This is not usually a big deal, but it can be irksome. When you meet people, they feel like because they know you are gay, they have some insight into who you are. This is of course completely wrong, but it is something you should be ready to handle. Here is a good example:

Stranger: Hey, I’m Stranger.
You: Hi, I’m Me.
Stranger: Can I ask you a question?
You: Sure.
Stranger: Does this top go with these pants?
You: I don’t know.
Stranger: What do you mean?
You: I mean I don’t know if they do.
Stranger: But…aren’t you like supposed to know about this stuff?
You: Why?
Stranger: Because your gay. I thought you all knew about that stuff.
You: Nope, some of us are just as clueless about this stuff as you are.

Now obviously this is a rather generic example, but it serves a purpose. One is being honest about what you are and are not knowledgeable of. Don’t pretend you know what you are doing, because other gays have given us the reputation that we should. I’ve always been kind of a stereotypical gay guy, I sing show tunes, and can take girls shopping. However, when I got to college I had no idea how to do my own laundry. People were flabbergasted at this revelation; that someone like me was not a domestic queen just like his mother. I was very up front with what about me was and was not stereotypically queer, and I also used that opportunity to dispel the myth that all gays are blessed with certain special features. Not all lesbians know how to fix cars and build things, just like every gay guy can’t make crème brûlèe and sing every lyric Judy Garland ever sang.

Something else I think that is important about being out on campus, is being you. Coming out normally leads to a phase where you talk about being gay a lot. You hear others coming out stories, talk about being in the closet, etc. While this is completely normal to do, after all you’ve been dying to talk about being gay but hiding it, it is something you should work on. Being gay doesn’t have to define you unless you want it to. If you don’t want it to, then don’t let it. If you like that being gay is a part of your personality, I suggest channeling that desire into becoming an active member of the LGBT community. Participate in support groups, suicide hotlines, LGBT panels, etc. That way you are being productive at the same time. Discussion of your intimate once closeted thoughts are still great for conversation, but make sure the other person really wants to hear about it before you spill your entire monologue. [see dating do and don’t]

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