Germy, gay panelist extraordinaire

Thursday, March 15, 2007

As part of the gay and lesbian group at my current workplace, I was invited to participate in a GLBT panel at a local community college. I was intrigued about the event, we were to be asked about our backgrounds, our coming out and our lives as adults. Germy loves talking about himself, so this promised to be fun.

The panel was for a sociology class that was studying sexual diversity. The panel was composed of another gay guy, a lesbian, a lesbian mother of two, a straight gay activist (mother of a gay son) and yours truly, Germy. Each had an interesting twist to their story. My "angle" was that I was raised in a predominantly Catholic country (Mexico).

We each gave a brief intro about who we were and such, then came the questions. I was really curious as to what regular American youths thought of GLBT people. The questions were actually pretty regular: "Are you born gay or did you become gay?", "Does your fmaily know?", "How did you come out?", "How will you raise your kids?", etc.

The straight woman turned out to be quite the semantics-nazi, she scolded a girl for using the term "sexual preference", she said that the term denoted a "decision" and that being GLBT is not a decision but something you're born with, that "sexual orientation" was more correct. It thought it was a little harsh (I mean what if my orientation is that I prefer guys? huh? haha), but in a meeting like this you kind of really have to stress correct terms. So in a way you're a little torn between being completely PC or being completely honest. To her credit, the straight lady was incredibly well informed about GLBT issues and political agendas.

This one girl asked a question about how gay men tended to be more effeminate, and I took the question and didn't think much of it. The lesbian mother of two balked at it saying that her assumption that all gay men were effeminate was insulting. I was a bit surprised because I totally had bought into that assumption and didn't even notice, and it was not the best example to set for the kids. It still stung to see another GLBT think of effeminate men as insulting, but this is how it goes I guess.

We talked about stereotypes and how there are a lot of boring gay men who have nothing to do on a Saturday night, about how the ban on gay marriage had affected the immigration goals of us foreigners, Catholicism's view on homosexuality, etc. All in all a very enlightening afternoon.

The most positive thing I got out of it was that it was comforting to know that the topic is openly addressed in classrooms. I think it was also important for the students to know that, just like in every community, people who are GLBT don't always agree on everything. And that's the way it goes.


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