What You Say, Pt. 2

Evening folks :)

I recently talked to you guys about how I feel when you say “That’s so gay,” and “Don’t be a fag.” Maybe you took it to heart, maybe you think I’m fighting a losing battle. Either way, I’m okay with that. Because if I made just a couple people feel better or gave just a couple people hope, I’ve accomplished my goal. Today, I want to talk about finding out and coming out, two of the hardest parts for a lot of people in the LGBTQ community. My own ‘figuring out’ story is pretty lame. Someone once asked a teacher what the B, T, and Q in LGBTQ stood for. The teacher explained. Everything made sense. The end.

My coming out experience was (like most people’s, I imagine) was a pretty gradual process. I started by telling a couple friends right when I figured it out, and they thought it was cool. It was a while before I quietly changed my ‘interested in’ on Facebook. No announcement, no spectacle, just a little detail. And then, when someone asked me about it, I just said “Yea, I’m bisexual. So? What’s it to ya?” I’m pretty sure the response was, “Huh. Cool.”

I never told my parents. When I had realized my orientation, I was also going through a kind of sketchy, angry, bitchy teen phase involving stud belts and a lot of Silverstein. I couldn’t stand the thought of my parents telling me that my ‘imagined’ sexuality was just a phase. That it was my way of fitting in by not fitting in. In hindsight, that idea would have been scary because fitting in by not fitting in is so something I would have done then. But I really loved my ‘new’ identity. I connected with it, I understood it. I never wanted it to go away. So I just didn’t say anything to my family.

I moved to Australia (away from the Catholic school) and suddenly the weight of judging stares and guys’ ‘threesome’ fantasies were lifted away like they had never existed. Like I said in a previous post, my sexuality in Australia was just another random fact about me. I finally made some really great friends who didn’t care who I was checking out. I honestly can’t stress enough how much the right crowd can boost your confidence and your sense of self worth. I came home with a new security that made it easier to talk about my sexuality and explain it to the people around me who didn’t understand it.

The last step was telling my closest friend (who is now also my partner), and my family. I’ve found that it’s easy to “come out” to people you aren’t particularly close with. There’s no fear of rejection. I was all kinds of nervous when I told my best friend. He’s a pretty traditional guy, so I had no idea what his reaction would be. As with every other thing I work up to Armageddon magnitudes in my head, it turned out to be totally fine. He said “Yea, that makes sense.” We now have a fantastic, solid relationship and occasionally we bond over objectifying hot, famous women.

I only just told my parents at the beginning of this month. As I’ve said before, my Gender Studies/Minority Studies course is really helping me realize how important this topic is to me.  So, I wrote “Part 1” in a panic because I needed to get the word out: It’s not okay to be passively offensive to the entire LGBTQ community! But then I realized I couldn’t let my parents find out via blog post. So I called my mum and told her. And she didn’t care at all. And then she yelled it out the front door to my dad as he left for the cottage (in my head, she just leaned out and said “By the way, honey, your daughter’s gay!”) And my dad didn’t care either.

I have exceptional parents who are basically the coolest people in the world (love you guys), and my entire coming out experience was basically painless…with the exception of the pain I caused myself by worrying. Obviously that is NOT everyone’s story: everyone’s is different. Have a listen to Hannah’s story. She’s hilarious and real… And you can’t get any better than that.

I dream of a world where no one has to come out. A world where the only time your sexuality has to come up is when someone asks you directly, for the purposes of seeing if you’re interested back. What other reason would we need to know it? Unfortunately, right now I think people do need to know it. I think people (especially those who make the rules we all have to live by) need to know that the LGBTQ community is NOT a tiny, insignificant minority! LGBTQ issues ARE a pressing matter, and to more people than you think. And right now, the only way we’ll accomplish that is to shout it from the roof tops.

There is so much more I want to say about this topic. Now that I’ve got myself going, I think I might end up at Part 12! Until then, if you have any coming out experiences you’d like to share, this is a safe space. Any derogatory or discouraging posts will not be approved, ’cause that’s just not what we’re about here.

That’s it for today folks. Talk soon,

Kenzie

A Gender Studies Article

Happy Wednesday, folks

I am officially back from Reading Week! It’s been three days and I already miss the laziness….’Cause let me tell you, I have put my butt in gear this week. And considering there are only eight weeks left of school, I think I might just be able to keep this up! I’ll be posting again shortly (hopefully, this weekend) but until then, I leave you with my latest Gender Studies post, a short article on learning disability services in Canadian high school aptly titled, Learning Disability Services in Canadian High Schools

http://genderstudies125.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/learning-disability-services-in-canadian-high-schools/

Hope you enjoy it, and as always, feel free to comment if you’ve had similar experiences or opinions of your own!

Talk soon,

Kenzie

Fifty Shades of Gay

“[I] asked people to quantify themselves on a scale of one to 100 percent gay, and I watched so many existential crises unfold in front of me. People didn’t know what to do, because they had never been presented with the option before.” – iO Tillett Wright

What You Say, Pt. 1

Happy Saturday evening, folks

I feel like this is going to be a long story, so I’m going to start by calling this post “Part 1.” Part 1 is going to consist of some of the most important moments of my life, the moments that changed what I wanted to do about who I am.

I have had two teachers who have completely changed the direction my life went in. The second of these two teachers — we’ll call him Mr. J — probably doesn’t even know he changed me…. On an entirely unimportant day in Grade 10, we were getting ready for last period History, as usual. There was noisy, chatter, and banter, as usual: “What’d you do on the weekend?” “Not much.” “Me neither.” “Hey, what’d you think about that test on Friday?” “Oh my god, it was so gay. What’d you think?” “Oh yeah, it totally sucked.”

And that ended the conversation. Not because everyone was appalled, not because one person said, “Hey, that’s not cool,” and not because whoever said it realized what he had said. You might even be re-reading that conversation because you didn’t see anything wrong with it…. The conversation ended because Mr. J had heard it and was hopelessly disappointed. In response to what was said, Mr. J dedicated a chunk of the class to explaining the emotional consequences of orientation- and gender-related slurs. You use them without really understanding what you’re saying. And sometimes, you need a little help getting into someone else’s shoes. Mr. J said this:

Using a term that many people identify deeply with as a verb to describe everything that is bad, annoying, unwanted, or uncool is as wounding to those people as it would be to you if someone used your name for the same purpose.

How would you feel if someone said “That teacher is so Jake,” or “God, that was such a Sam movie.” Probably not great, but you could laugh it off. But when it happens every. single. day? When people associate a huge part of your identity with everything they hate? It messes with your head.

And suddenly something clicked for me. At the time he gave this impromptu speech, I had known for a year, maybe two, that I was bisexual. Mr. J’s sermon on respect for others may have fallen on deaf ears in that class on that day, but it helped me understand something about myself. I consider myself pretty secure in my identity. And yet, I have always felt a twist in my gut and an ache in my heart when I hear you say “That’s so gay,” and “Don’t be a fag.” Yes, I realize you don’t say it intentionally. You say it because everyone else says it. And you don’t mean it like that, right? I get that. But here’s the thing… I don’t say it. Lots of people just don’t say it. I have found other words to use (and there are other words), because I know it matters, and because I know it can hurt people in the deepest, darkest, and most damaging ways. I know that because I’ve felt it, because I’ve seen other people feel it.

A couple years later, after meeting many beautiful friends in Australia who never saw my sexuality as anything other than a random fact about me, I met a very young, very confused girl on the Internet. Through an anonymous question and answer site, a young girl posted the question, “I think I might be a lesbian. Is that okay?” I was immediately concerned with what other people might answer, considering the anonymous nature of the site. I found links to websites like It Gets Better as fast as I could and sent them to her. Her response changed something in me. She responded that she had looked through the sites and immediately felt more sure of herself. She thanked me profusely, and I never heard from her again. But every now and then, I wonder if this girl or someone like her had continued to struggle with her identity. I imagine her trying to figure things out and hearing you unknowingly associate homosexuality with all the crap in your life, with everything you’re annoyed by, everything you wish would change or go away. Would she feel ashamed of herself for being the way she is? Would she feel like a freak? Would she think, like many others, that people really seem to hate homosexuality based on what you say? Those stupid, meaningless, unintentional things you say.

There was never an opportunity to help or support or even just hang out with other kids and teens who might be going through the same challenges at my Catholic high school. I was open about my sexuality to my peers there, and (for the most part) people my age didn’t really care. I dealt with some whispers that never really went away, but I still got out with my head held high. Now, I’m in university, and everything is different. I’m taking Gender Studies which is teaching me more about the socialization of gender and sexuality, how it affects me, and how it affects others. I’m surrounded by this atmosphere of acceptance. I’m realizing more and more that I need and want to reach out. I want to be here to make a difference for people who are still struggling with their identity, whether it’s with themselves, with their family, with their religion, or with their friends.

I leave you today with three important things:

1) I told my boyfriend almost two years ago. His response? “Huh… Yea, that makes sense.” And I finally told my parents last night. They don’t care. Neither of them think it’s any more important than the fact that they’re heterosexual. This is the kind of equality I want. I want it to be weird that people have to come out and say “I am gay!” It’s just another random fact about you.

2) I promise to write Part 2 soon (maybe subscribe to my blog to read it right away? :D)

3) And finally, this very important message:

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!

Are Women Taking Over University?

This is the first of three blog posts I’ll be writing for my Gender Studies class. It’s a group blog, so if you’d like to see my group members’ posts and comments as well, you can find them at http://genderstudies125.wordpress.com :) We would love to hear your opinions!

Kenzie

GenderStudies

According to Statistics Canada, the ratio of men to women in Canadian universities has changed drastically in the last 40 years. In 1971, just under 70% of graduates were male. In 2006, women now hold the majority at 60%. So, what is the cause of this significant change? Is it over-compensation? A change in the way females are viewed in education? Are boys being pushed in a different direction? Or is it a combination of many things?

While it has always been clear to me that the ‘real world’ of business is highly androcentric, I have always associated the world of education and teaching with women. There are far more female teachers than male teachers in primary schools in Canada and while it is not as distinct, more female teachers in high schools as well. My own primary schools’ teaching staffs are currently 84% and 90% female, my high school’s…

View original post 581 more words

Abode, a breeze, a break!

Why, hello again! (Check me out, writing multiple posts in such quick succession!)

First and most important…I have a home next year!!!! I’m so unbelievably excited about this! Along with three amazing girls from my floor, I will be living in an adorable house not too far from campus! The rent isn’t bad and it’s not falling apart! We’ve already decided who gets what room and who’s bringing what furniture. I’ve gotta say, this is a very exciting, (so close to being) grown up experience for me. I’m already bursting with excitement for next September!

One of my housemates and I went to a housing meeting, which was intended to inform us of the various ways and trickery of landlords in Kingston and the kinds of things we should be looking for and avoiding in our house buying process. One of the hosts of the meeting explained why it’s so detrimental to call the student housing area for Queen’s ‘the ghetto’. If we imagine our home as part of a ghetto (and when you think about it, that’s just awful), we’ll treat it as such. We’ll expect less from our landlords and their properties, and we’ll get less. So, Queen’s is pushing the newer term ‘the university district’. I like it. I think it sounds fancy. Do I think people will adopt the new name? Not a chance: It’s not catchy enough, and just calling it ‘the district’ sounds creepy.

How is your housing experience going? If you’re a first year, have you found your perfect house yet or are you still looking? If you already have a house, do you have any tips and tricks for dealing with landlords or making your temporary house feel like home? Let me know!

Secondly, what is up with this Canadian winter? Last week was a lovely -36°. Joy. And yet this week will have a high of 10°! Has this ever happened before? I think not. And I’ve gotta say, I’m not loving this Kingston-style windchill. -20° is fine and Canadian enough, but when you add on another -10° for windchill, it does not inspire leaving the building!

Lastly, I feel a little spoiled with all these breaks from school! I know they say second semester goes by fast; I have experienced this in high school. But it honestly feels like I just got off winter break…and yet it’s only another little while until spring reading week! Granted, I’ll probably have to do a ton of work and readings during my spring break. But if I can do that work at home with my man and a fireplace and free food that’s made with love, I say that’s a pretty good deal. How are you finding your second semester? Did you learn anything in first semester that you’d like to share?

And on that note, I find myself hungry. I shall venture to the caf to find something semi-healthy.

Talk soon, Kenzie

Learning Experiences

Hey there, stranger!

As you may know, I began this blog to record my experiences as a university students. So take the last four and a half months of complete inactivity on this blog as a sign of what university life is like: keepgoingdontstophurryup.

That pretty much sums it all up.

First semester was certainly a learning experience for me. I have figured out:

  • how lectures work (go to them)
  • what a TA can do for you (highly dependent on their accent)
  • what meal plan to get (not the one I’m on)
  • the best places to study (anywhere that’s not residence)
  • and when to start studying for exams (way before whenever you actually started…even if that was October)
  • Oh! And I learned school stuff too. Really.

The main thing to take away from first semester was that I survived. And that I only have to do it seven more times before I can graduate! All in all, I’m just glad to say that 2012 is over. The entire year was, like I said, a learning experience, and an effective one at that…but not one I’d like to go through again. Getting into 2013, I’m feeling a lot more prepared and optimistic for what’s coming in second semester and in the next few years of university.

So, “What is coming in second semester??” you might ask, with unbridled excitement. Well, it’s been really exciting so far, actually! I’ve started a new course called Gender Studies (but I’m calling it Minority Studies in my head because that seems more appropriate). The lectures are fascinating. I honestly just want to bring a bag of popcorn to this enlightening two hour event I get to go to every week. So far, we’ve watched Ellen and analyzed Tinkerbell in class and been given a chance to choose what we would like to learn this semester. On top of that, my Sociology professor analyzed two hockey games and an entire episode of Big Bang Theory today. I now know why Sheldon is funny. …And with the semester starting off this well, I have lots of plans for the rest of it.

I once read that you’re not supposed to tell people what your goals and resolutions are because the satisfaction you get from saying you’re going to do it and other people congratulating you makes you feel like you’ve already done your job. So I’m not going to tell you what my goals are! But I will tell you what’s on the menu in the next month or so:

  • find and lease a house in Kingston for myself and three of my friends from residence
  • keep chugging along in my English, Psychology, Religion, and Sociology courses
  • start my new fascinating course on Gender Studies (I have to blog for that course, so I’ll be posting links!)
  • keep posting on my blog??

I do apologize for not making time to blog. Now that I’ve got the hang of this “university” thing, I’m hoping to make time to write more for you guys!

Talk soon!

Kenzie