LGBTQ+ Roundtable Spring 21

 

For this semester’s LGBTQIA+ Roundtable, the girls, guys, gays, and theys got together on Zoom to talk about a myriad of questions in terms of where our community is, how we conceptualize our identities, and how the world sees us. We had a great time, met some amazing people, and learned a lot about who we are. Below are some specific questions we discussed and our reflections:

 

  • Best part of being LGBT?

  • Do you feel part of the community? Why or why not?

  • Do you think COVID has impacted LGBT life?

  • Fictional gay crush? Celebrity gay crush?

  • What are some stereotypes and how have they impacted your identity?

  • What personal struggles have you dealt with being LGBT?

  • What struggles do you think we as a community are dealing with even now that we have a new President? Do you think things are getting better, worse, or staying the same?

  • What was coming to terms with your identity like for you?

 

Anderson

While I have had a decent amount of friends that are in the LGBTQ community for years even before I started to come out to people I realized that not a ton of our conversations are necessarily about being LGBTQ. Usually, it’s sending each other memes or TikToks from the bi pirate side of the internet so it was nice to just get to go through talking about the way that being someone in the community impacts our life. It was nice to get to talk about the best parts of being in the LGBTQ community while also discussing some of the more challenging parts of it. While I have a great community of friends that are supportive I know that outside of my friend circle there are people in my life who wouldn't necessarily be as accepting. It was nice to get the opportunity to discuss things like that with people who are going to understand it regardless of when they chose to come out.

 

During part of our group conversation, we got talking about fictional crushes and celebrity crushes. When our character crush got brought up my first thought was Shego from Kim Possible because while she terrified me as a child she's phenomenal. Talking about celebrity crushes lent itself to me exposing my very odd range in attraction to people with my type in women being absolutely gorgeous (Zendaya) and my type in men looking like they dabble in hard drugs for funsies and haven’t slept in a good 2 years (Pete Davidson). This reminded me that in my real life the same type applies. My first crush on a girl was a TA, who’s now a great friend of mine, is quite literally the prettiest person I’ve met in my entire life. On the other end of that, I always joked that another TA that I was into looked like a Great Value Pete Davidson.

 

Getting the opportunity to participate in this roundtable was something that I appreciated so much since I got to see some familiar faces that I haven’t seen in a hot sec because of the pandemic. It's nice to have the ability to talk in a little pocket of the community and have discussions strictly about the ups and downs of being a member of the LGBTQ community during so many crazy historical events going on during the coming of age years of our lives. Even though we all had a very wide range of experiences and sexualities I found that we all had a sense of understanding for one another. That is one of the things that I love the most about this community. So while I like to joke that my favorite part of being bisexual is the fact that I check all the boxes for stereotypes whether it be cuffing my jeans, being bad at driving, or being the most indecisive person you will ever meet in your life I think my actual favorite part is just having this community of people to talk about and find camaraderie with

 

Dylan 

Attending this meeting was a lovely new experience for me; I’ve never felt comfortable attending LGBT+ events since so many of them seem to be large festivals or parties (nothing wrong with that, it’s just not for me). Having sessions like this where people can talk freely and openly about their sexuality and experiences can be just as important for building community—especially in smaller settings—as Pride celebrations are. I personally identify as a gay man, and admittedly for a long time my response to hearing about the LGBT+ community was incredulity. I thought, “but we’re all so different, it doesn’t make sense, etc,” but as I’ve learned over time community doesn’t necessarily mean you’re all the same or you’re all best friends. Community can simply mean you’ve got eachothers backs or the unity of common experience. Throughout my college experience, nothing has helped me let my guard down in a conversation more than knowing the person I’m talking to was also LGBT+. 

 

Having a sense of camaraderie has always been important in the community, but living in the US that camaraderie feels more important and necessary than ever for many of us younger members than ever before. While Donald Trump’s legislative legacy of executive orders has been slowly wiped away since Joe’s Biden’s inauguration; his social legacy of emboldened bigotry and selfishness may remain even decades from now. Because of this I feel a personal need for a community of people who can fight homophobia together, raise awareness together, and who will support each other through it all. In a perfect world we won’t have to fight tooth and nail for our rights, but the instability of the current moment has a lot of LGBTQIA+ people feeling on edge.

 

As for myself, my relationship to my sexuality is always complex and changing. Do I think it’s harder sometimes? Absolutely, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without it—and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

Katie

I am grateful to have been able to participate in this session. It was really neat to talk with fellow LGBTQ members. We all share similar experiences and this made me feel validated. As an openly bisexual woman, I get a lot of critism about who I am dating and I never stop hearing some rendition of “it is just a phase”. The diverse group of individuals in this session were reassuring and made me feel comfortable sharing my experiences. My biggest takeaway from this experience was that no matter how you identify, you are valid. No one can tell you what you are or are not, or what they deem as acceptable. No one has the right to criticize your behavior and tell you your identity is false. The only person who has any say in your identity is you! Be confident and remember that you have an entire community behind you that supports and loves you. 

 

Natalie

Participating in this roundtable was a really fun and eye opening experience. It was really great to get to meet and talk with other LGBTQ+ people at SUNY Oswego. I identify as bisexual so I was really happy to talk to several other people who identify as bi as well as I feel like this can sometimes be a forgotten identity in mainstream media when discussing the LGBTQ+ community. We talked about several topics such as coming out and stereotypes and what really struck me was how although we each have similar experiences, each story and experience was unique to that person. There isn’t one mold or stereotype that fits every person who identifies as LGBTQ+, we are all multi dimensional people whose multiple identities and experiences shape us into who we are. 

 

I was really glad that we were able to break down stereotypes in a meaningful way during this roundtable. We each had the chance to talk about which stereotypes personally affect us and prove that we are more than these stereotypes. Not only was sharing my own experiences beneficial, but I learned a lot from listening to other people, especially those who identify with other LGBTQ+ identities that I don’t. I think it’s important to remember that not only could straight cisgendered people learn something from LGBTQ+ people’s stories and experiences, but we as LGBTQ+ people still have a lot to learn from each other as well. I’m really glad we had this opportunity to listen and talk to one another. Especially during this pandemic where having a sense of community is so difficult to come by, it’s now more important than ever to connect with each other in any way possible. 

 

Nirdishtha

This was a really fun session and I feel like we got a lot of different perspectives about how we dealt with similar situations. As a queer asexual, I feel like this space was definitely somewhere that I could talk about issues and feel like I was heard. 

 

One of the key takeaways for me from this session was that we all have some form of internalized homophobia. Being different from the cis white man in the United States is definitely harder because a lot of us tone down our mannerisms, and our ways of expressing ourselves so we can assimilate. The fact that the LGBT+ community has really formed a huge sense of allyship after everything from the past administration has really strengthened us all. The fact that we are seeing more content from real people about their experiences and their advice on things has helped people feel seen and heard. I think that the community supporting each other and using content from mainstream social media platforms is amazing and that it will only help in raising awareness among the cisgendered people. 

 

I feel like content like that is helping break down stereotypes. These stereotypes can be really harmful to a young person who’s trying to figure out their sexuality because everyone has a different personality and not everyone identifies with the generic representation of LGBT+ community in movies. Having been told that “I just haven’t met the right person yet” over and over again was very traumatic to me because it constantly made me feel like there was something wrong with me. The truth is that I just don’t feel any sexual attraction towards other people. Stereotypes might be somewhat true at times but they aren’t the perfect way to identify any community. 

 

Shannon

So, I was the moderator for this roundtable and what an excellent time it was! I am so glad we got to do this for another semester. For reference, I identify as bisexual and I love it. Being openly and freely bisexual to those I love in my life is incredible, and being able to connect with people and have open conversations about our identities even if we have much different lives otherwise is incredibly important. To be in an atmosphere of positivity and bonding really is great. I was so invigorated by the discussion we had and the diversity of identities present. It gives me some sense of hope to hear from my fellow LGBT+ friends how they felt and saw things. We are out here having active discussions and being part of something important. We are not just stereotypes, agendas, or identities — we are multifaceted people that are ready to engage every part of ourselves in order to make this world a more interesting place. 

 

The one thing I really think is important to talk about is that despite there being a new administration, I don’t honestly think there will be too much change. I think liberal straight people will get more lazy about fighting for our rights because they know nothing super radical will be passed, but otherwise, I don’t have high hopes that there will be any massive push for more gay rights equality. There were a lot of people who were emboldened to hate and homophobia after Trump was elected that are not going to just go away, and the work that needs to be done to combat them is extensive and time consuming, just like breeding hate is. I think the apparatuses of hate are great at misconstruing who we are. I think if homophobic people understood that we are multi-layered, complex people going through similar struggles as them and have our own wishes, dreams, hopes, and struggles, they might understand how human we really are like them. Even people who aren’t queer or non-cis seem to have misconceptions rooted in homophobia that they don’t realize are that, and it is such a vulnerable place for our society to be in. I really hope discussions like the one we had today become more common and visible because they make us better and stronger, and at the end of the day, that is how progress happens.