In September, Hendrix’s Committee On Gender and Sexuality (COGS) hosted Straight Answers to Queer Questions. The conversation-based event covered quick facts and delved into deeper, complicated issues, with care and consideration of diverse identities and differing levels of background knowledge. Maybe Burke (they/them) and Marshall Miller (he/him) mediated the event; they each identified as queer, though explained the term means different things to different people.
QUEER (adj.) a term describing someone who is not cisgendered or not heterosexual (or, sometimes, neither cisgendered nor heterosexual). Some use it as an umbrella term to describe the larger LGBT+ community (see: queer community) while others use it as a standalone identity. Because of its history as a slur, there are those that are uncomfortable with using the term as an identity.
Burke and Miller encouraged the room to split into smaller groups (designated by obtaining matching finger puppets) and discuss what they felt was the most basic, necessary information to understand what terms fell under the queer umbrella. The synopsis of these is as follows:
BISEXUAL / PANSEXUAL
- attraction to two or more genders
- the distinction is not transphobic (based entirely on the person’s comfort with either)
- dating someone of the opposite sex does not make someone less bi/pan (and vice versa)
- umbrella term that falls under the queer umbrella
- the lack of sexual attraction falls along a spectrum
- asexual people can have sex!
- born with anatomy that doesn’t fit the strict binary of female or male
- in reality, approximately 29 combinations of genitalia and chromosomes exist
- (as with any sex) can use whichever pronouns they identify
GAY / LESBIAN
- attraction to same or similar gender presentation
- marriage legalized across the country in 2015
- there is no designated age, place, or blanket way of “knowing”
- another umbrella term falling under the queer umbrella
- anyone that does not identify with their assigned gender
- includes nonbinary, genderfluid, trans women, and trans men
The presentation also included discussions about important political happenings. The event was hosted days before the Supreme Court began hearing whether or not protections against employment discrimination enveloped LGBT+ issues. The verdict as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is to continue to be extended to the LGBT+ is still undetermined.
The evening moved to an open discussion of personal experiences, as the hosts were quick to note that there is no “one story,” and that the best way to gain a deeper understanding for one another is through exposure to those around you. These stories ranged from comical coming out stories, to the touching tales of finally feeling comfortable with one’s identity. Attendees told a range of experiences, but all had one thread in common: the importance of unconditional love and finding people you trust.
Finally, Straight Answers to Queer Questions concluded with anonymous questions. The audience was encouraged to write any question they had on a notecard, which would be placed in a box and answered aloud. Test your knowledge and take part in the experience by taking the quiz below:
TRUE OR FALSE?
- Gaydar exists, and is 100% accurate.
- Members of the LGBT+ are always democrats.
- What is a dental dam?
a. another name for a mouthguard
b. thin square used during oral sex to prevent the spread of STIs
c. kissing during sexual relations
- What is a dead name?
a. name a trans person was given at birth
b. another word for maiden name
- Is there a right way to come out?
ANSWER KEY: ˙
- ǝʌoqɐ ǝɥʇ ɟo ll∀