LGBTQ* Insight, Education and Ally Conversations
From Oregon State
— Roommate Questions/Answers
(You may want to pass this on to RAs in conversation)
In the residence halls
In a residence hall environment, we interact daily with a wide variety of people. Statistics have shown that at least 10% of the general population consider themselves to be lesbian or gay, and many more consider themselves to be bisexual. It is very likely that you will meet individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) during your time at OSU. This page was developed to hopefully answer some of the questions you may have. Remember, you may ask these questions of your Residence Life staff as well.
Why do they flaunt their sexuality?
“What people do in their own bedrooms is their own business, but I saw two guys walking across campus holding hands.”
One of the worst forms of oppression for a human being is to be denied emotional expression. Curiously, it is called “expressing love” when heterosexuals hold hands, but “flaunting” when LGBT people express their love. How would heterosexuals react if they could not hold hands, kiss, dance together, go to romantic dinners, or be married? LGBT people who are open with their affections are not trying to shock others, but are just doing what is natural to them and others.
What should I do if a friend tells me that he or she is gay? What does that say about me?
Most LGBT people who “come out” would like the same sincere acceptance and encouragement you might want when you tell a friend something special about yourself. Because of many people’s “homophobic” attitude (fear and derision of same sex relationships), many gays are afraid of rejection from their friends. You might first honestly ask yourself how you feel about this news and then discuss it as a caring friend.
Some people who find out a close friend is LGBT wonder “What does that mean about me?” This is a natural reaction. What it probably means is that your friend trusts you very much. However, liking someone gay does not make you gay any more than liking someone smart makes you smart.
If my roommate “comes out” to me, does that mean that he or she thinks that I’m gay too?
There is a big difference between “coming out” and “coming on.” As discussed above, most gay people who come out want to be accepted, not hassled. Sometimes a gay person might “come on” to you, tell you they are attracted to you, or want an intimate relationship with you. You can handle it in the same manner that you would handle a heterosexual approach. Gay love is as serious and legitimate as heterosexual love. Again, you should discuss it with your friend.
If I accept my LGBT roommate, will he or she bring in lots of LGBT friends and push me out?
A formerly taboo subject will be out in the open. You may feel uncomfortable from a lack of experience dealing with gay people who are not “closeted.” The LGBT friends should respect non-LGBT people just as LGBT people expect to be respected. Visits by LGBT folks are a good opportunity to learn about this large and diverse segment of the population. However, be cautious about presuming that all your roommate’s friends are LGBT. His or her best friends may be straight.
Won’t my friends or parents think I’m gay if I have a gay roommate or friend or defend equal rights?
Defending equal rights for gays is often a courageous stance to take. Some people may conclude that such a person has a vested interest to do so. It is up to you whether you feel that the people you are defending are worth the risk of occasional accusations or assumptions by others. Remember that a word from heterosexual friends and allies in defense or support of gay rights can go a long way to help change people’s minds.
Now that I know my roommate is gay, I don’t feel comfortable about nudity, dressing, showering, etc.
More than likely, you have been living together long enough to trust each other. There is no reason for the trust to diminish now. Your roommate has been gay or lesbian all along! Bear in mind that gays are not always comfortable with non-gays, either. Gay people, just like straight people, are attracted to certain types of folks. Most gays and lesbians are not sexually interested in heterosexuals, just as the reverse is true.
LGBTQ* Statistics and Graphs
(source - Philly Mag)
Dialogue about consent should be happening in every community. What are you doing to spread the word that CONSENT IS SEXY?
**Victoria’s Secret may not love CONSENT, but we do.**
Nobody likes to feel like they’ve been duped—least of all a Virgo. And I was. I ain’t even mad, though. In this case, I’d say I did exactly what I was supposed to.
I’ve noticed a lot of rude bear comments floating through the blogosphere aimed towards people who weren’t immediately skeptical of the Pink loves Consent campaign, and I get it, I really do. Victoria’s Secret has been perpetuating negative body image and cultural insensitivity for ages and it was a far stretch from their usual routine to release a body-positive, sex-positive panty-line that promotes *gasp* CONSENT.
HOWEVER. Notice how many of us were aching to believe that it was true. I would have gone out and dropped the money on consent-is-sexy underwear in a heartbeat. The fact that so many people DID believe the hoax and DID reblog information about the panty line isn’t going to go unnoticed by VS executives. The optimist in me wants desperately to believe that the fact that we all got a tricked by some clever little feminists on a mission (FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is currently taking credit) means that VS is going to have to take note of the demographics they’ve been alienating. Are you listening, Victoria’s Secret?
The crafty hoax had a lot of things going for it that I personally would love to see in a panty line (or, you know, in life): gender neutral language regarding both the panty-wearing folk and their sexual partners, plus-sized models, womyn of color as models, sex-positivity, and most importantly, promotion of CONSENT.
Who wouldn’t want any of that to be trendy? Those who fell for the hoax are the reason the hoax was a good idea in the first place: it got people talking about the importance of consent, it got Victoria’s Secret an email inbox full of demands for the faux-line, and it reminded retailers everywhere to pay attention to the kind of goods their consumers want. Activism like this wouldn’t work if we didn’t show our support, so personally? I’m okay with admitting I wanted those damn panties.
**Last post about panties for now, I promise. But the KNOWhomo family encourages all of our panty-wearing folks and anyone who loves panty-wearing folks to keep speaking up and demanding retailers start promoting consent.
LGBTQ* Ally Tips
Graphic from Trinity’s Q Soc (of Ireland)
Following text from UC Davis’ Trans* Ally Tips Page
SOME WAYS TO BE A GOOD TRANS ALLY…
• Don’t ever out a transperson. This is dangerous to their safety & can invalidate their identity. Likewise, be aware of your surroundings when discussing trans issues with a transperson. For their safety & comfort, they may prefer not to discuss these topics in public places or among strangers.
• Always use the pronouns & name the person wants you to use. If you’re unsure, ASK! If you make a mistake, correct yourself, & politely (& subtly, if possible) correct others if they use the wrong pronoun.
• Ask when & where it’s safe to use their chosen name & pronouns (e.g., if a transperson is not out at home, ask them how you should refer to them around their family, etc). Don’t ask transpeople what their “real” name is (i.e., the one they were born with). If you know their birth name, do not divulge it to others.
• Instead of using prefixes like bio- or real- to designate that someone is not trans, use “non-trans” or the prefix “cis-”. Two reasons for this: one, using “real” or “bio” sets up a dichotomy in which transpeople are not considered “real” or “biological.” Two, using the terms trans & non-trans or cis- alters the framework so that transpeople are the default rather than the Other. Setting up trans as the norm can help make transphobia & gender privilege more obvious.
• Instead of saying someone was born a boy (or a girl), try saying they were assigned male at birth (or were female-assigned). These terms recognize the difference between sex & gender, and emphasize the ways in which sex & gender are assigned to individuals at birth, rather than being innate, binary or immutable qualities.
• Don’t confuse gender with sexual preference. Transpeople, like non-trans people, are straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc. Gender is not tied to sexual preference, & there are a million ways to express desire.
• Don’t fetishize. Transpeople’s bodies are not a public forum. “Creatures with cunts,” “the best of both worlds” & “chicks with dicks” are all inappropriate ways of describing transpeople’s bodies.
• Don’t ask transpeople about their bodies, how they have sex, what their genitals are like, etc. It’s rude & none of your business. It can help to think about whether you would ask these questions of a non-trans person.
• Don’t ask about surgery or hormone status; don’t ask “when are you going to have the surgery?” or “are you on hormones?” Like non-trans people, our medical histories & bodies can be intensely personal & private. If transpeople want to share these details with you, allow them to do so on their own terms.
• Don’t assume the only way to transition is through hormones/surgery, & understand that medical transition is very often based on economic status. Recognize the classism inherent in associating medical transition with “authentic” trans identities.
• Don’t assume all transpeople want hormones and/or surgery, or to transition at all.
• Don’t assume all transpeople feel “trapped in the wrong body.” This is an oversimplification and not the way (all) transpeople feel.
• Don’t assume all transpeople identify as “men” or “women.” Many transpeople and genderqueer people identify as both, neither, or something altogether different.
• Don’t tell transpeople what is appropriate to their gender (e.g., transwomen should grow their hair out & wear dresses). Like non-trans people, we have varying forms of gender expression.
• Recognize the diversity of trans & genderqueer lives. Remember that these identities are part of other identities, and intersect with race, class, sexual preference, age, etc.
• Do listen if a transperson chooses to talk to you about their gender identity. Be honest about things you don’t understand—don’t try to fake it!
• Be aware of places transpeople may not be able to go (pun intended). Be understanding if a transperson doesn’t feel safe using a gendered bathroom or locker room. If your organization is holding an event, designate a gender-neutral bathroom in the building.
• Recognize that not all transpeople or genderqueer folks are out there trying to smash the gender binary. Recognize that it’s not their responsibility. If you want to smash the gender binary, then you do it!
• Don’t ask transpeople to educate you. Do your own homework & research. Understand that there is a difference between talking to individuals about their preferences/perspectives and forcing someone to be your educator. Try not to view individuals as spokespeople; the trans communities are diverse, not one monolithic voice or viewpoint.
• Don’t assume transmen are exempt from male privilege, misogyny, sexism, etc, just because of a so-called “girl past.”
• Recognize that transwomen deal with sexism in a very real way (on top of transphobia).
• Recognize that transwomen deserve access to “women-only” spaces/programs/shelters/etc.
• Recognize your privilege & prejudices as a normatively gendered person.
• Think about what makes you uncomfortable & why.
• Don’t let transphobia slide. Confront it as you would confront all other forms of oppression. Trans issues are rarely discussed & when they are it is often in a negative light. Transphobia is equally oppressive as (& works in conjunction with) sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, etc.
• Talk about trans issues/rights. Engage people in discussions & share your knowledge. The majority of “information” people have about trans issues is based on stereotypes & assumptions. To most people, trans folks are the freaks from Jerry Springer.
• Be aware of the vital role you play as a non-trans person. Remember that the way you talk about transpeople (e.g., using the right pronouns) influences how others perceive us & can make a difference in whether we pass, & whether we feel safe/comfortable. Always remember that people may be more likely to listen to & take cues from non-trans people than from transpeople. What you say & do matters!
• Don’t just mourn or take action when transpeople are murdered. Celebrate trans lives & work at making trans & genderqueer issues more visible on a day-to-day basis.
• Don’t tokenize. Simply adding the “T” to LGB doesn’t make you or your organization hip, progressive, or an ally. Make sure you have the resources, information & understanding to deserve that T.
• Above all respect and support transpeople in their lives & choices.
LBGTQ* Safety and Ally Assistance
(photo from University of Richmond’s Common Ground)
(following text from Youth Pride, Inc)
Ten suggestions for reducing homophobia in your environment
1. Make no assumption about sexuality. If a student has not used a pronoun when discussing a relationship, don’t assume one. Use neutral language such as “Are you seeing anyone” instead of “Do you have a boyfriend”. Additionally, do not assume that a female student who confides a “crush” on another girl is a lesbian. Labels are often too scary and sometimes not accurate. Let students label themselves.
2. Have something gay-related visible in your office. A sticker, a poster, a flyer, a brochure, a book, a button… This will identify you as a safe person to talk to and will hopefully allow a gay, lesbian, bisexual or questioning youth to break his/her silence. SAFE ZONE campaign stickers and resources can provide this visibility.
3. Support, normalize and validate students’ feelings about their sexuality. Let them know that you are there for them. If you cannot be supportive, please refer to someone who can be. Then work on your own biases by reading, learning and talking to people comfortable with this issue. And always remember, the problem is homophobia not homosexuality.
4. Do not advise youth to come out to parents, family and friends as they need to come out at their own safe pace. Studies show as many as 26% of gay youth are forced to leave their home after they tell their parents. IT IS THEIR DECISION and they have to live with the consequences. Help them figure out what makes sense for them.
5. Guarantee confidentiality with students. Students need to know their privacy will be respected or they will not be honest about this important issue. If you cannot maintain confidentiality for legal reasons, let students know this in advance.
6. Challenge homophobia. As a role model for your students, respond to homophobia immediately and sincerely. Encourage in-service trainings for staff and students on homophobia and its impact on gay and lesbian youth.
7. Combat heterosexism in your classroom. Include visibly gay and lesbian role models in your classroom.
8. Learn about and refer to community organizations. Familiarize yourself with resources and call them before you refer to make sure they are ongoing. Also, become aware of gay-themed bibliographies and refer to gay-positive books.
9. Encourage school administrators to adopt and enforce anti-discrimination policies for their schools or school systems which include sexual orientation. The language should be included in all written materials next to race, sex, religion, etc.
10. Provide role models. Gay and straight students benefit from having openly gay teachers, coaches and administration. Straight students are given an alternative to the inaccurate stereotypes they have received and gay students are provided with the opportunity to see healthy gay adults. You, as teachers, can help by making gay and lesbian students feel more welcome.
Suggestions compiled by Youth Pride, Inc.
Anti-Bullying Laws in the American School System
Maps provided by GLSEN
LGBTQ* Voices You Should Know
Ryan Sallans, trans* activist/educator/author, speaking at Memorial Park in Nebraska.
Check out Ryan’s book SECOND SON
Check out Ryan’s TUMBLR
LGBTQ* Theory Books (You May Want) To Know
Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory (Gender and Culture) - Lynne Huffer
Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature (First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies) - Qwo-Li Driskill (Editor), Chris Finley (Editor), Brian Joseph Gilley (Editor), Scott Lauria Morgensen (Editor)
Please Select Your Gender: From the Invention of Hysteria to the Democratizing of Transgenderism - Patricia Gherovici
Queer Cowboys: And Other Erotic Male Friendships in Nineteenth-Century American Literature - Chris Packard
Aberrations In Black: Toward A Queer Of Color Critique (Critical American Studies) - Roderick A. Ferguson
LGBTQ* Surveys and Polls
12 Least LGBT-Friendly Universities/Colleges in the USA (2012)
(information from Huffington Post)
LGBTQ* Polls and Charts
FryDay Poll: LGBTQ* Global Rights
LGBTQ* Coming Out
Edited byBen Rubenstein (following from WIkiHow)
In this guide, the term gay has been used to include all forms of homosexuality and bisexuality, whether that be people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or pansexual.
(read more HERE)
1) Common Ground - Source: Kerry Ashforth
Students and faculty advisors stand in a circle. One person begins by saying, “I’ve got a younger sister,” or some other statement that is true for them. Everyone for whom this is also true steps into the center of the circle. Everyone who doesn’t have a younger sister stays on the outside. You can always choose not to step into the circle. The game often brings up personal and important issues that students may not want to discuss in a more formal setting. This also allows us to recognize our differences and similarities.
2) Gender Stereotypes - Source: Various
Trace a male and a female body on butcher paper, then have a free-for-all where everyone writes/expresses as many gender stereotypes as they can think of, and place those stereotypes on the bodies where they would apply (i.e. “boys are smart at math” would be placed on the head of the male body). From here, you can talk about how gender stereotypes and traits relate to perceptions about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people - as well as how these stereotypes limit our possibilities, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These exercises can also be done using stereotypes of gay men and lesbians - helping us to recognize that everyone has different traits that don’t define our sexual orientation or gender.
3) Culture Walk - Source: Kerry Ashforth
There are one or two mediators, and they begin by asking a group of people, for example, women, to move to one side of the room. The people who then haven’t identified as women ask questions, and the women give them answers. Then the women get to say what they’d like other people to know about them. You don’t have to “talk” or “walk”.
4) Pretzel, Knots - Source: various.
Group building cooperation game. Everyone stands in a circle. Everyone puts his right hand forward into the middle and grabs the right hand of someone. Then, take your left and hand grab the left hand of someone else in the circle. Thus, with your right hand you are attached to one person’s right hand, and your left hand is attached to someone else’s left hand. You are all now in a tangled ring of bodies. Without letting go, untangle yourselves. You may switch positions of your hands, but do not break the ring.
Sometimes the group is tangled in one big loop, but sometimes it is tangled in several smaller ones.