Letter to Self

Just a little background info: the final assignment for my Women's Literature course was to write a letter that utilized the texts we had read as inspiration. I decided to take the take the assignment a step further and really spend some time reflecting on how I've changed in my encounters with "difference." So this is a little more about feminism, a little less about my queerness, but still relevant. (I think.) Enjoy.


Coming Out as a Straight Ally

I have absolutely no problem telling the world that I am a straight ally of the LGBTQIA community. In fact, I enjoy telling people, regardless of positive or negative reactions. Weirdly enough, though, I have trouble "coming out" to members of the LGBTQIA community.

It has to do with my job. Pretty much anyone who hears that I am the LGBTQA Connection Associate instantly believes that I, therefore, must be either a lesbian or bisexual. At the very least, I must be closeted, right? I get it. "Why would a straight, cis-gendered person have the audacity to apply for this position? She's snatching an opportunity right out of the hands of someone who is actually LGBT!"

I know that there are people who think that I am not qualified to work with the LGBTQA Connection. The hardships and adversities of the LGBTQIA students on this campus are not my own, and that experiential factor is crucial in fostering relationships with the students who I will be working with. There are bound to be students who do not or will not see me as an accessible resource.

The Ins and Outs of Coming Out

If you were to ask me about my sexuality now, I'd immediately tell you what I identify as, as well as having a few pithy nicknames for it. (Example: Oh, I'm an equal opportunity employer.) However, it hasn't always been this way. Coming out to my family was a much longer and more awkward process.

My mother was the first to know, and like all serious conversations, it happened in the car. I don't know about other families, but most really serious revelation conversations happen in the car. I came out to my mom at 14 in the parking lot of Friendly's, I kid you not. Looking back at it now, it seems like something out of a movie: me and my mom sitting in the parking lot, me turning to her and saying I had something to tell her. Her response was one of tentative acceptance, saying she needed some time to think about it. She's 100% supportive now.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve my senior year of high school. My sister and I  are driving home from church. We're at a stop light and I turn to her and say, "Sarah, I'm bisexual." Good thing we were stopped at the time, because she turned to me and said with shock, "Really? But you're so boy crazy." I remember laughing a little.

Telling my dad was the much more dramatic, sit in the living room on opposite pieces of furniture kind of scenario at the end of high school. The jury's still out on how he feels. He pretty much ignores it. I've come to accept the fact that until I actually bring a girl home, it's kind of a non-issue for him.

Moral of the story: Make sure the car is parked. You don't want your family driving off the road when you come out. Coming out to people might seem like a momentous, impossible task, but it's not. Do it on your own schedule. The right people will be accepting of you.  


A Peculiar Observation

Ursinus and Diversity. How often have we all heard those two words in the same sentence? Probably more than collective sanity and empathy can bare. Recently, I was considering the diversity issues that we all hear so much about. I was looking on the website and trying to understand what Ursinus is actually doing, as they often claim they are doing a great deal to confront these issues. Just on the website something became obvious. The College has recently made a serious effort with Queer issues. Which is wonderful. Clearly, I benefit and partake in these efforts as a contributor to this blog. The reason it struck me as so interesting is that it seems, and this might not be the way it was meant to seem, that the College has chosen Queer issues as their diversity issue. What I mean by this is that College has pointed to Queer issues as the issue they would like to address under this umbrella term of diversity.

This might seem controversial, but as a person who benefits from this peculiar privilege, I think it is necessary to point out. Take for example Queer House. I have sat in on the meetings with Residence Life to get the house reinstated for next year, and generally know a decent amount of the effort to attain and retain the house. In the same meetings, there is always discussion of the other houses as well, which includes the Africana and American Studies house. This house is just as important and serves the same purpose Queer house does, only it is a space for students of color on our campus. The College has clearly given some sort of preference in the case of SPINT, and  it is important to discuss when it comes to understanding the efforts to make Ursinus a "diverse" community and diversity discussions generally.


A Minority Hunger Games?

Hello yall! How are we doing on this fine day in April? The weather is absolutely "fabulous!"  Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  I actually have a tendency to avoid using that word because of the harsh stereotyping that goes along with it.

Currently, there has been much growing excitement for the first Ursinus College Hunger Games, to begin this Thursday!  It is going to be an exciting game, and interesting social experiment to see alliances formed and broken, friends betraying friends, and who will come out on top!  Jen and I were just picking out the lovely ribbons that each Tribute will be wearing, it is going to be so exciting!

What if there was an actual Hunger Games that was run by some sick monkey where tributes were selected from districts that were the different minorities of society.

District 1: Queer Community
District 2: Asian Community
District 3: Arab Community
District 4: Latino Community
District 5: Black Community
District 6: Dungeons & Dragons Community
District 7: Computer Nerd Community
District 8: HALO Community

Ok, so they arent all on the same level, but you get my picture.  It would be an interesting social experiment to see which groups teamed up with who, and who came out on top! (A dominant-type gay man of course!)

However, I think it might be more beneficial to everyone if all the minorities were to band together to kick butt and show people that prejudice is really a terrible edifice which causes so much death and destruction between a species where we need to learn to love and accept one another.

Didn't see that twist did you??

Keep it real!



Letter Not Sent (August 2008)

In August of 2008, I sat down at my family's living room computer and for the first time, told a girl Megan, my ex-girlfriend from many years before, "I'm gay."

It was a computer at which, in years past, I had exchanged e-mails with middle-aged men about sex and sexuality. Some of them had been good to me, offering advice and the vaguely comforting sense that they'd "been there." Most of them were unhappy, unattractive in that they were still sitting in the darkness of their own living rooms. Hiding.

It was also a computer at which I had constructed fake internet personalities that suggested the kind of boys I wished I had been. Boys braver, more boyish, more likable than I thought myself. You are what you are not. The boys who I pretended to be were those whose energy was directed outwards rather than inwards. Boys who explored what lay under the stones they found in the woods rather than what lay beneath those less-tangible things they found within themselves. They laughed often; swung their arms when they were excited; grinned broad grins; spoke countless words to crowds of attentive people rather than writing to an audience that consisted only of the self.

"My eyes look back, they self-examine," I wrote at seventeen in my journal. "They look for solid answers. My mind wanders back to... the fact that I'm always alone..."

I was lonely and alone among friends, writing to a girl who lived in California simply because she existed in the realm of elsewhere, in a world other than my own. She was less of a threat to the reality I wanted to preserve, where I could be silently gay forever: "If I could go my whole life without telling anyone what I'm about to tell you, I would"-- a sad statement not only because I desired such a fabricated existence, but also because my internal ache was becoming so unbearable that my speaking out, my coming out, was perceived as inevitable in spite of such a desire.

"I think I trust you more than anyone," I write to Megan. It's a lie. She was the intended recipient of this letter, the later recipient of another letter saying a more concise and less honest version of this one, but the only reason that I was sending it to her was because I knew she didn't exist in my day-to-day world. I could live with her never speaking to me again: "I'm not ready to lose a friend over it." I just needed to prove to myself that I could do it. I was in the bottom of a well looking up at daylight, realizing where I was and where I could be. This letter unsent signifies the beginning of my ascent.

In one of the paragraphs most unusual for to me read now, I mention my friend Jacob, who I've known longer than I've known any of my friends, and how I might not blame him if he found out and never spoke to me again. Six months or so after this, I will have come out to him. He will be driving his car and I will be riding shotgun, waiting until this moment exactly because that way I do not have to look him in the eye. My hands tremble and fumble in the dusty heat exhaled from the vents of his station wagon. In the year that follows before we leave for college, we will continue to have these conversations, confessing things we had imagined we would never speak, assigning words to ideas thought inarticulate. We are infatuated with our own reluctant audacity. We drive through the darkness of the night, through the sleeping suburbs we've grown up in, then in-between the tall buildings of a city we're only beginning to know and then we ascend the mountains. We reach the peak and for a moment we can see through the dead winter trees the persistent quivering light of Harrisburg. Here we are not still going up, not yet coming down; we are all potential energy, like a book on the edge of a desk. We are glowing. And then we are not--we are descending, weaving through the trees which are no longer trees but shadows pierced by headlights. We are breathless, returning.


‎"Is coming out as bisexual easier than coming out as homosexual?"

I kid you not -- that was a question on C's "Sexual Identity Across the Lifespan" exam. And I kind of went into a frenzy over Facebook on her status when I found out.

First of all, the question was NOT open-response -- no essay, no paragraph crammed into a too-small space. It was multiple choice. I mean, how can someone predetermine right and wrong answers to such an incredibly subjective question? Did you not think that this question was subjective?

Oh, but let's look at the options C's class was given ... As well as C could recall: (A) Yes, because their parents have hope that they may become straight. (B) Yes, because of reactions and stereotypes. (C) No, because their parents have hope that they may still become straight. (D) No, because of reactions and stereotypes.

I have a few discrepancies with these answers.


Queer Spaces

Two RAs patrolling Main Street on the weekend before spring break began entered Schaff, or Queer House, to find the common room overflowing with residents and non-residents dancing, many of them visibly intoxicated. A number of students had been seen coming and going from the house, a quiet house where parties and alcohol are prohibited, and the RAs could hear loud music through the open windows, so it was their duty to investigate. They entered Schaff, passing by a few students huddled outside smoking cigarettes in the cold and found what was very clearly an unregistered party.

It wasn't just a party, but my 21st birthday party, and even though these RAs did what they had to do and instantly shut it down, taking names and checking IDs, it remains in my mind one of the best birthdays I've had in years. I was surrounded by people I had come to care for in my three years here at Ursinus, slathered in various colors of bright body-paint, hand-prints left by my friends. In the corner over a window was the house's vivid rainbow flag and it occurred to me that, unlike I might have years before, I didn't feel like I had been caught at the scene of a crime in its presence.