Comment Moderation Off

I have heard some feedback that people may not be commenting much on our posts because of the comment moderation settings. I originally thought I should screen all comments before publishing them because I did not want this to be a forum for hate speech. However, I never intended on censoring any constructive criticism, disagreeing arguments, or any other relevant thoughts. (For the record - I have published all comments that have been posted so far).

In any case, in an attempt to encourage more discussion on this blog, I have turned off the comment moderation setting. So please, feel free to share your thoughts, questions, comments, criticisms, etc. to any of our posts! However, our guidelines remain the same, and I will delete any comments that I consider hate speech and/or personal attacks.

Thanks, and I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween, and a great weekend!

Personally, I think the pine tree looks great!

(Posted by Dominic, '11)
And just in case we thought that the entire nation was as flamboyantly courting Obama as Vassar is, here is a bust of Sarah Palin inscribed into several acres of otherwise wonderful Michigan cornfield. Say hello to “Sarah America”, everyone. (and…a pine tree, too?)

Don’t forget to pick up your Sarah Palin American Girl Doll ASAP, folks- they’re going fast!

Gender Neutral Restrooms at Vassar

Incase you missed it, there's an article in Today's Misc. about the gender-neutral restrooms that will soon be added to many of the academic and administrative buildings at Vassar. (All the res-halls already have gender-neutral restrooms). There are about 40 gender-neutral restrooms throughout most of the buildings on campus that have been identified to be signed over the winter break.

Straight Until Proven Gay

(Posted by Dominic, '11)
I’m going to put it out there- it’s been a long time since I’ve been accused of being exclusively attracted to persons who happen to fall under the general category of “female” by someone I consider a friend or even an acquaintance (and usually even by the general public), so it always surprises me when the assumption is made.

But maybe that’s just a little bit of a New York/Vassar College specific bias showing itself.

Back in Hometown, USA, the rule of thumb is simple: Straight Until Proven Gay. And apparently it’s been a while since I’ve been back home, because the second I stepped off the plane, I appear to have slipped into my “straight” costume unwittingly, even to my friends.

After spending seven days back in the town in which I was born and raised, I have yet to encounter a friend who doesn’t manage to mention my apparent exclusive interest in women.
News to me. Why am I always the last to know these things?

But, really, while I realize that a large portion of the fault here falls on my shoulders for a failure to communicate with my friends back home, what gets to me is the underlying assumption that I must be a certain way, unless I say otherwise.

What also surprises me is that, while I never explicitly stated an attraction to men in high school, by my junior year I dated both genders intermittently in plain view of my peers. I had my own fears and discomfort about being “out” in terms of dating men, which led to difficulty in maintaining those relationships. But I never hid those relationships, and even introduced a boyfriend to my group of friends when I was seventeen. It seems to me that I did nearly everything aside from labeling myself.

Clearly, it wasn’t enough. Amidst the frenzied cacophony of beer, cigarettes, flashing lights, pounding music, and falling pins known as a bowling alley one night in my hometown, I explained the layout of my (small) dorm room to an old friend. Especially difficult to explain is the orientation of my bed, which resides literally six feet off the ground above both my desk and the bookshelf on top of it.

In the middle of my explanation that with desk, dresser, and my other bookshelf, there was nowhere else to put my bed other than a mere foot lower than the ceiling, above several other pieces of furniture, my friend interrupts with a blunt, dubious,

“But don’t the women ever hit their heads on the ceiling??”

My first reaction is to laugh uneasily. It’s true, I don’t consider myself exclusively attracted to men, but I will generally identify myself as gay if pressed. How much of that should I reveal here, where I’ll need to shout over the noise to be heard? Should I slip on my game face and go along with it until a more private time? The convenient cloak of “straight” is sitting right in plain sight, for me to put on if I should so decide.

A great majority of the time, my heterosexuality is not a baseline assumption of those with whom I’m at least acquaintanced. I don’t know if the tip off is my Britney Spears playlist or my great fashion sense…but stereotypes aside, I do know that I’ve become much more likely to articulate an orientation for myself these days.

Thus far, it seems my actions have only been circumstantial evidence for my orientation. So it seems the power of identification lies in the words themselves, whatever they might be. Unless, of course, you happen to be straight.

If you’re wondering what I did- I told my friend the truth. I haven’t decided what I’m going to be for Halloween yet, but I can say that I’ll be anything but straight.

A Day At Work

(Posted by Nick, '11)
One day during October Break at work, (I work at JCPenney) I was assigned to the Young Men's quad. Just behind it is men's shoes. This woman walked up to the quad, where me and another customer service associate were standing, and asked if we could help her find a shoe. We said we didn't work in that dept and referred her to the associate who was. She said, "Nonono - I want YOU because you're young - you know what's trendy, what's on the cutting edge."

I was like oooooook.... Her husband, who she was shopping for, is 53. I'm 18.

She wanted a slip-on shoe for her husband. I really don't like the moccasin look, so I showed her one that was slightly less casual, but definitely not dressy. She wanted something "fresh."

So she looked it over, looked right at me and goes "Look at all this stitching, though.... Don't you think it's a little too gay?"

A few things:

1. There was NOT a lot of stitching on the shoes.
2. In any case, how the hell does excessive STITCHING make something look GAY?
3. She went on to say the same thing about various shoes about 3 more times.
4. It almost got to the point where I wanted to say, "Ma'am, I'd love to help you find a nice pair of shoes for your husband, but quite frankly, I think I'm a little TOO GAY to do that."

I know for a fact that she wasn't using "gay" as a word synonymous with "stupid." I think she was really truly concerned with if the shoes would make her husband look gay... And so I thought to myself my God, what a world we live in nowadays, that women can't even count on their being married to their husbands to establish the fact that they're straight.
In all seriousness though, this was a wake-up call for me - in the "Vassar bubble" you (or at least, I) never hear that word being used in a negative way. If anything "gay" is a compliment on Vassar campus. It just made me realize that Vassar is NOT the world, and that we, the collective we, have a LOT to do if we ever hope to establish full social equality for queers one day.

Fruit Salad!

The Fruit Salad! Series Presents...

The Preacher and the Porn Star
Adventures in Not Conforming to Gay Stereotypes

Wednesday, October 29
12-1pm @ the LGBTQ Center (CC 235)

Come join us as Gary Brinn from Religious and Spiritual Life leads a discussion about gay male culture and the pressures to conform.

Part of our Fruit Salad! series about diversity in the queer community.


(Posted by Loghann, '10)
So, I recently had kind of an interesting experience that made me want to write a blog post. This is more of a story than some sort of editorial piece, just be forewarned. Also, if you are opposed to fast food – specifically McDonald’s – for dietary, moral, or other reasons, sorry, but this particular tale involves patronizing one such establishment.

I don’t often go to McDonald’s, or to any fast food place, really. However, when I do go, it is my curious habit to get a kid’s meal of some sort, be that a Happy Meal, a Wacky Pack, whatever. Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not actually in it for the toys, I just like the smaller portions and the cheaper price. But I digress.

I was at McDonald’s the other day, the first occasion in a long while. (The few times I get fast food these days it’s at the Burger King over by Stop & Shop, Big Lots, and Kmart. I don’t drive, so when I need something, I walk up there.) I ordered a Happy Meal, and then the cashier asked me, “Is it for a boy or a girl?”

[Now entering into my train of thought.]
Wait, what? Why does it matter, is my hamburger going to be a different color or something? Oh, I bet it’s got something to do with the toys…um, does it matter? How am I presenting today? Do I look like a boy? Is she going to judge me for getting a masculine toy? Will she be confused? You doofus, you’re twenty years old, don’t you think she’s going to judge you more for ordering a Happy Meal than for the gender of the toy? Does she think it’s for me? Could I be ordering for someone else? It doesn’t matter what I say if that’s the case. What makes you think she cares? She probably just wants to get to the customers behind you. But really now, what a gender-normative question. It’s just silly, that’s what it is. Why not just ask which toy I want? You know, somehow I don’t think there’s anything she can do about it, so maybe you should just answer the question. Do I want a toy? Can I get a Happy Meal without one? Oh, for Christ’s sake just answer the question!

I literally stood in line and stuttered for several seconds before I said, “Umm…a boy?” She just smiled politely at me and processed my order.

I went back the table my friends were sitting at and expressed my bewilderment. They all seemed amused; surprised that I hadn’t known this was coming. Apparently McDonald’s usually offers gendered toys. Who knew?

This wasn’t a traumatic experience or anything, it was just surprising. I know I’m somewhat preaching to the choir here, but it’s just another instance of all this sex-is-gender-is-sex-and-they’re-both-binary crap that so many folks have to fight on a daily basis. Obviously girls want Barbies and boys want Hot Wheels, that’s the way it is.

This was in the line at McDonald’s, pesky, off-putting, and a little humorous, if anything. But there are so many other situations every day when one is asked to identify themselves as “M” or “F” and to also follow the social models assigned to this designation. For some of us it’s more than a little frustrating.

Just my rant of the day.

(Let it be noted here that I’m very satisfied with my Hot Wheels car.)

German Studies Queer Film Series

Wednesday, October 29
7:30pm @ Chicago Hall - German Lounge
Aimee & Jaguar

Felice is living a dangerous life: in the middle of World War II in Berlin, she is a Jew and a lesbian, and works undercover at a Nazi newspaper from which she finds information to take to the Jewish underground. One day she meets her lover, Ilse's employer Lilly, and falls in love with this bourgeois, Nazi-supporting hausfrau. Their affair is as intense as it is dangerous, with Felice in constant danger of discovery. In their own ways, each woman challenges what is expected of her.

In The News...

FBI: Hate Crime Down in 2007, but Anti-Gay Crime Up
According to this article, overall hate crimes went down about 1% in 2007, compared to 2006. However, there was a 6% increase in Anti-Gay hate crimes. The FBI did not assign a cause for these statistics -- what do you think could be the reason(s)?

According to this article, Australian researchers have identified a significant link between a gene involved in testosterone action and male-to-female transsexualism. The study cited in this article showed that male-to-female transsexuals were more likely to have a longer version of the androgen receptor gene, which may cause weaker testosterone signals.

Biological basis for any aspect of the queer umbrella is a very controversial issue. On one hand, it legitimizes queer identities as something genetic, and therefore not a choice. On the other hand, many people will see a genetic component as a "defect" that could be "fixed." Please share your thoughts on this in our comments...

Toto, I don't think we're in NY anymore...

(Posted by Dominic, '11)
*apologies for the blatant wizard of oz references, I couldn't resist. No, in fact, we are most certainly back in the Midwest, and while Dorothy is figuring out that she’s no longer in Kansas on stage in my old high school auditorium, I’m fighting off the panic at finding myself surrounded by people from my life before college, none of whom I’ve seen since graduation or before.

Don’t get me wrong- I was excited for this trip. But a sense of overwhelming panic gradually began to creep up as the car crept closer to my high school. I can’t bring myself to think of the building as “home”, though for four years I spent almost every day from seven in the morning until midnight involved in various activities ranging from orchestra to track and field to my own stint in the drama department.

I find myself, to my chagrin, thinking of this place as “before”, even though I thought I’d made my peace with it. Before college, before a list of personal experiences too long to go into here, and the big Before. Before being diagnosed as intersex. All this is running through my head as I realize that on my first day back, I’m surrounded by many of my old classmates, not to mention the teachers and administrators who all knew me quite well Before. My mind starts to race- will they recognize me? Should I be happy if they do, or if they don’t? Am I ready to see them? What are they going to think? Who do I need to be around them?

I plunge back into an insecurity about my identity I haven’t felt in a long time. I don’t want them to recognize me on the one hand. On the other hand, I’m not used to being anonymous in this building- there are people I want to say hello to.

To recap, I’m sitting in the middle of my high school auditorium for the first time in three years, a time during which significant changes have occurred in my life, not the least of which was being diagnosed as biologically intersex. I haven’t seen any of these people since graduation, a time at which I looked significantly different than I currently do. The level of comfort with my identity that I’ve recently found in New York fragments and dissipates into the cracks, just like that, and I sink down into my seat until intermission, at which point a new problem arises.

What bathroom am I supposed to use? There are two hours left of this musical- waiting is an option, but I’m uncomfortable enough as it is. The problem lies in the very cause of my current nonphysical discomfort. Before being diagnosed I was living (albeit unsuccessfully) as the opposite gender, as that was what doctors saw fit to put on my birth certificate.

I take a deep breath, ask the wizard for some courage, and decide to brave the proverbial yellow brick road. All goes well until I’m on my way back, walking as quickly as possible. I run into a cluster of people, or, rather, their shoes, since I’m only looking at the tiled floor. I look up to find my way around them, and- find myself face to face with an old friend with whom I spent much of my childhood from three months on. Her face and mine register a mix of confusion and surprise, and my fragile courage takes the opportunity to flee. I’m left alone, face-to-face with her.

“Oh! Uhhhh…Sorry!” With that ingenious response, I pull an about face and get back to the relative anonymity of my seat as quickly as possible. Whew. Crisis averted.

Wait. Sorry? For what? Since when do I find it necessary to apologize for my existence? I’m starting to realize what an effect being back home is having on me- in New York, I have started over, begun to rebuild myself and become comfortable with my existence. When I’m back in Michigan, it’s nearly impossible to avoid looking at myself growing up, if not in the pictures that seem to fill my parents’ home, in the memories that this place is saturated with.

I was always teased, and on several occasions throughout my adolescence I was physically assaulted by my peers for failing to appear “normal” for my supposed gender, especially after hitting two separate, oppositely sexed puberties by the age of twelve, producing visible and less visible changes in my physiology, which my classmates immediately picked up on. After my first school dance, during which a “well-meaning” classmate pulled down my pants to “see what I was”, I used to feel very much the same way I’m feeling right now. That is, alone, scared, singled out, abnormal, and ready to apologize for it.

Feeling even more conspicuous, and more than a little angry at myself for my reaction, I scrunch down in my chair to try and enjoy the rest of the musical, and I promise myself that on the way out I’ll walk tall and be proud of the person I’ve become in the past three years.

Or…well…maybe I’ll just work on getting out the doors tonight without running. I do have eight more days to find my footing here. And you know what they say-

There’s no place like home. (Now, where did I put those ruby slippers…?)

Discussion with local candidate, Jonathan Smith

(Posted by Strong House Fellow Team)
Town Hall Discussion with local candidate Jonathan Smith
Indulge in the pre-election fervor by engaging with an actual political candidate!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
5-7pm @ Strong MPR

We are thrilled to have Vassar graduate and New York State Assembly candidate Jonathan Smith (D) come to campus a week before the election!! He will be answering your questions on women's issues that affect the Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County area. This is a fabulous opportunity for us to ask questions of a candidate who understands Vassar's concerns as issues that also affect Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County.

E-mail any questions or topics of interest for the discussion to, or just come with them on the day!

Strong is hosting, but it's not just for us - invite your friends from other houses too! Everyone is welcome to attend!

Thanks to our lovely co-sponosors: The Women's Center, Amnesty International, The Debate Society, and MICA.
And thanks to Political Science Professor Sarita Gregory for moderating!

Intersex Awareness Day - October 26

What is Intersex?
Intersex refers to a series of medical conditions in which a child's genetic sex (chromosomes) and phenotypic sex (genital appearance) do not match, or are somehow different from the "standard" male or female.  About one in 2000 babies are born visibly intersexed, while some others are detected later.  The current medical protocol calls for the surgical "reconstruction" of these different but healthy bodies to make them "normal," but this practice has become increasingly controversial as adults who went through the treatment report being physically, emotionally, and sexually harmed by such procedures.

What is Intersex Awareness Day?
Intersex Awareness Day is the international day of grass-roots action to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital cosmetic surgeries on intersex children.  Intersex Awareness Day first started on October 26, 1996 when intersex activists from Intersex Society of North America and their allies from Transexual Menace held the first public intersex demonstration in Boston, where American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference. 

To learn more about Intersex issues/experiences, check out the following websites:
Intersex Awareness Day Website  (source for the information in this blogpost)


(Posted by Audrey, '11)
I can’t get politics off my mind. With the election looming closer each day, I have become a ranting, raving feminist stereotype—the stuff of conservative Republican nightmares, trust me., one of my fave blogs, posted these two youtube videos the other day that really struck a cord with me. They’re sarcastic little clips and they sum up my current sentiments exactly. What happened to the separation of church and state? The inalienable rights of man (and woman)? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Our constitution doesn’t state that all straight people are equal, it tells us that everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender, is equal. I am fed up with the right wing stomping all over the notions of equality and fairness and having the gall to declare themselves the moral voice of this nation. Please, for the sake of my rights and yours, VOTE for Barack Obama on November 4th and encourage everyone you know to do the same!
Gays for McCain
Women for McCain

**This post represents the political views of the specific blogger -- not necessarily everyone from the LGBTQ Center**

Chris Crocker's take on Gender Neutral Bathrooms

(Posted by Nick, '11)

I know, I know, it's a little difficult to take Chris "Leave Britney Alone!" Crocker seriously, but I think he's raising a really valid point here. Simply put, restrooms around the world are not properly accessible to those who don't identify as being male or as being female. Society still has its faith in the gender binary, and this rant really puts that in a new light, as the video is by someone who has experienced it firsthand. What I find amazing is he got the huge amount of subscribers he did because of "Leave Britney Alone!" but now he's going back to what he used to do - exposing queer issues in our society today - with one major difference: hundreds of thousands of people are now watching him.


(posted by Loghann, '10)
Hey y’all, I think it’s time for another QTalk post!

So, first of all, thanks to everyone who commented on the last one! Considering the things you said provided the inspiration for this post.

The homework I had to get done this week is complete and break is looming (but in a pleasant way, certainly). It’s made me start thinking about everyone traveling home or to different areas that are not quite as “gay-friendly” as Vassar is. One of the commenters on the last post said, “I also don’t think that a lot of people realize how much energy and emotional strain it takes to go from being closeted to being out.” I think that this is really true, but I also think that it works the other way, as well.

Personally, I’m from Lee’s Summit, MO (pictured at right), a decently-sized city a little ways outside of Kansas City. While I am out at home, it’s still a culture shock every time I’m there for break. Sometimes I forget that people aren’t so used to hearing queer identity-laden comments spoken in normal tones in the middle of Blockbuster. Getting used to the funny looks again takes time, and in really uncomfortable situations I slip quietly back into the closet.

This October break I’m headed to Michigan with a friend of mine. I’m not sure what to expect there, but it will certainly differ from the Vassar atmosphere. I know many students who are out here on campus will step into the closet as soon as they get home, and that this is tremendously difficult for many.

So, what about you? Are you going somewhere for October Break? Will you be able to be out there? Why or why not? Have any specific “culture shock” experiences you’d like to share?

Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and healthy break! Don't work too hard!

More thoughts about being an Ally...

(posted by Eva, '12)
When I was tabling this week, I was struck by one response I repeatedly got when I asked people “What does being an ally mean to you”: I’m not an ally because I’m gay. An ally is someone that fights for a cause that is not their own, so I can see their line of logic. However, being an ally is not something that is limited to the LGBTQ community. We can be allies to any group. You can be an ally to different religious communities, to different racial, ethnic, or class groups, to really any group that isn’t your own, but that you feel strongly about. And, being queer, I think that being an ally to others becomes even more important. How can we expect people to be our allies if we aren’t theirs? Also, just because you are queer doesn’t mean that you can’t be an ally to other members of the queer community. I see myself as being an ally to the intersex community, the gay male community, and the bisexual community, none of which I consider myself to be a part of. I guess I was just struck by how many times I heard this response and was wondering what you thought about this issue.

Ally Week Tabling Responses

For the past 3 days, we have been tabling in the College Center Atrium to raise awareness about, among other things, Ally week. Everyone defines being an ally as something different, but we were hoping to get the message across that being an ally is more than just knowing people in the queer community and being friends with them -- an ally is a person committed to ending the bias and discrimination against LGBTQ people. This can involve anything as large as being an active activist to as small as saying something when a person makes a homophobic slur.

Of course, this description is specific to being an ally to the queer community, but there are other types of allies as well. In general, being an ally is someone who actively fights for a cause that is not their own.

We asked the Vassar Community to respond to the question: "What does being an ally mean to you?" Here are some of my favorite responses:

"Being an Ally means that minority groups don't have to be the only one's educating the closed minded"

"In high school some kids were making fun of the "dykes" (of whom I was one) in front of some of my acquaintances. They politely and firmly told the kids to desist. They were allies."

"Supporting the right to let everyone live to let live"

"Beating up (verbally) people who are jerks to my awesome sister who happens to be queer. She's the shit."

"It means taking care to consider all parts of everyone as important - it means that you know that just because someone is queer does not mean that is ALL they are. They may also be a friend, a lover, a listener, and athlete, a scholar, a writer, an artist, a goofball, a family member, etc."

"Not defining anyone by his or her sexuality"

"To protest hate speech even if it doesn't apply to you."

"Being an ally means getting involved on both social and political levels: from telling your friends to not substitute 'gay' for 'stupid,' to donating to civil rights groups."

"Being an ally means standing together with your community, regardless of your own identity or the identities of those around you."

"Standing up against discrimination. Standing behind the cool chicks and dudes and everyone fighting to live freely."

"Being an ally means being prepared to listen to the needs of others and act in THEIR best interest instead of a preconceived notion of what their interest must be. It means cooperating and remaining conscious of your position and self-interests."

"Standing up to discrimination."

"Being an ally means constant awareness and support. My mom says: lending my voice and speaking up for everyone!"

"Being someone people can come out to."

What are some other ways that you, or people you know, are allies?

FAQ's about Legal Marriage in CT

Click on the link below for a great overview of what the new Connecticut Supreme Court ruling means for same-sex couples - both residents and non-residents of Connecticut.

When a slur isn't a slur - What do you think?

A gay student group is clashing with officials in the San Diego Community College District over attempts to post leaflets at two campuses announcing the name of the organization: Fellowship of Associated Gay Students and Straight Allies. Actually, it is the acronym — FAGS — that is causing problems. A student organizer told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the name is designed to have "a little pop to it" and to "neutralize" the slur, in the same way many people have changed the way the word "queer" is used. But district officials reported that there were complaints about the term, leading to a request to keep the posters down.

Jason Frye, president of gay and lesbian clubs at San Diego City College and Mesa College, supports using the acronym FAGS for The Fellowship of Associated Gay Students & Straight Allies.

Read the article here, and let us know what you think!

Tribute to Audre Lorde

A Litany Of Survival
Tribute to Audre Lorde
A Documentary Screening and Reading

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
-- Rocky 300

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) has been intrinsically important to the development of second wave U.S. feminism. Author of 15 books of pros and poetry, including her autobiographical Cancer Journals, in which she courageously wrote about her mastectomy and her decision to pursue alternate treatment when the cancer recurred. She was poet Laureate of New York State from 1991-1993. She consistency challenged racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia, serving as a catalyst for change within and among social movements, in which she herself participated: Black Arts and Black Liberation, Women's Liberation, and Lesbian and Gay Liberation. A staunch internationalist, she connected women across the U.S.A., the Caribbean, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. She died in 1992 after a courageous 14 year struggle against breast and liver cancer.

Come join the Women's Center, WOCA, and BSU in celebrating Lorde's life and work, and in remembering those whose battle with cancer continues.

Free HIV Testing!

Tuesday, October 14
10:30am - 2:30pm
Location:  Van located in Baldwin Parking area by the Health Service

This test is not a blood test, but a quick oral swab test with results in twenty minutes.
AIDS Related Community Services:
Early Intervention Program:  (845) 471-0707
                                                     Extensions 17 or 24

Sponsored by: Vassar College Health Services
Office of Health Education

Coming Out Day T's

Our Coming Out Day T-Shirt Campaign was very successful this year! I saw some creative identities that people "came out" as on Friday, October 10. Here is a brief list:
Confused (and ok with it)
A Lesbian
Totes Cray
A Straight Girl
A Work in Progress
An Ally
A House Advisor
An Ally from Texas
And many more!!
And here are some pictures of people with their shirts:

"Me" and "A gay, soccer-playing anthro-studying female activist"

"Beautiful" and "Sexy"

"A Lesbian" and "A Lesbian"

What did YOU come out as? Leave a comment!

Matthew Shepard Remembrance

Yesterday, October 12, 2008, marked the 10th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's brutal murder. As you know, Shepard was beaten to death simply for being gay. The media covered this event more than any previous homophobic hate crimes, which helped to raise awareness about homophobia nation-wide. Matthew's parents founded the "Matthew Shepard Foundation Campaign to Erase Hate" in order to fight against hate crimes. Visit their site, and see how you can help their cause.

Pride School Pros and Cons

(Posted by Eva, '12)
So I recently read that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are looking into opening an LGBTQ friendly charter school. I can't decide whether I like this idea or not. The school would mainly target queer teens, but anyone would be allowed to attend. One of the major purposes of the school would be to create a safe space for queer students, especially those who have faced harassment at their original schools.

The reason I don't know if I like this idea is that I kind of see it as a cop out. I feel like CPS, and all school districts, should work to stop bullying and harassment. I am afraid that if a queer teen is bullied at a CPS high school, they will just recommend that they go to the new LGBTQ school instead of adequately dealing with the problem at hand. Also, the school would leave out a large majority of the queer community and often those who need the most support: those who can't be out at home, whose parents don't know and can't know that they are gay. These students could never go to the new LGBTQ school and they need to have safety and support at their neighborhood school.

Yet, at the same time, I agree that a number of students would benefit from this school, especially those who are out at high school. Being out at high school can not only be difficult, it can be dangerous, and this school would create a safe and supportive place. So I guess I would say, create the school, but don't forget that problems of bullying and harassment are still a major issue that needs attention. As Emma Ruby-Sachs, a blooger for 365gay said, "If setting up a gay school will save even one kid from suicide, than it is the right choice."

**Update from Julie: Check out the CNN article about this here!**

Breaking News!

The Connecticut State Supreme Court has just announced that they have overturned the Ban on Same-Sex Marriage! This comes from a court case started in 2004 by 8 same-sex couples who sued, saying their constitutional rights to equal protection and due process were violated when they were denied marriage licenses.

Check out the developing story here.

I know people have different viewpoints about same-sex marriage...please share your thoughts in the comments!

Share Your Coming Out Story for Publication!

(posted by Rasheed, '09)
The LGBTQ Center in conjunction with the Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC) is putting together a publication focused on the coming out experience. At the moment, the publication is scheduled for release during October of the next academic year, so we are collecting stories now so that the publication may be worked on during the next semester and printed over the summer.

If you are interested in submitting your work, you may do so by e-mailing it to with the subject line "Coming Out Story." If you would like the story to be printed anonymously, please state that within the e-mail. If however you would like the story to be completely anonymous, you may also submit the story to Box 2181 in a blank envelope.

Coming Out Story

(posted by Nick, '11)
In the spirit of coming out day, I'd like to share with you my coming out experience at Vassar.

At the beginning of freshman year, I was out to no one here.  After a few weeks, if people hadn't figured it out, I ultimately came out to them... except my roommates.  I wasn't sure how they'd take it, and since I had to live with them I kept it on the down-low until I could figure out how they'd react.

That plan didn't work out so well.

A day in October, another boy and I were hooking up when his roommate walked in.  He was very apologetic and offered to leave immediately, but the damage was done; the mood was lost.  So we hugged, said we'd get together and never hung out ever again. =)

Anyway, I thought the story was ridiculously awkward and funny so when my roomies got back that day I HAD to tell them.  Of course, since I wasn't out to them, I had to use gender-neutral pronouns like "they" and "them."  This went very well, with the exception of a single line - I was so excited that I said "And then his roommate walked in."

My stomach DROPPED when I heard the words leaving my mouth.  My mind had two words in it:  OH. SHIT.

But they handled it quite well; they didn't even really acknowledge it.  We talked about it the next day, and they said when we all first met, they had a convo once about it, but they really didn't care.  What a relief.

What's your coming out story?


(posted by Frank Tate, '09)
INTERSEXTIONS will be having its first meeting of the semester next week on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 7:00pm in the new LGBTQ Center (CC 235)! This meeting’s topic will be on how different social groups (both on and off-campus) unknowingly and sub-consciously maintain the standards of homophobic and normative spaces.

We will also be providing dinner for this event from a local restaurant. Therefore, we'd like for interested participants to RSVP to Frank Tate ( by Monday, October 13 at 12noon! You can look forward to an interesting conversation among a great group of people!
Information about INTERSEXTIONS:
At Vassar, INTERSEXTIONS has been formed and reformed in many different capacities. The name "INTERSEXTIONS" was coined in 2005 by a group of LGBTQ students of color who wanted to create a space that would exist to discuss issues of intersectionality, specifically that of race, gender, and sexuality, to center the experiences of those who are both racial and sexual minorities. INTERSEXTIONS is not only a space of intellectual and political exchange, but is also a social space that is both fun and supportive. Allies are welcome.

FREE Coming Out Day T-Shirts!

Look for our table in the College Center Atrium today and tomorrow (October 9 & October 10) from 11am-3pm to get your FREE Coming Out Day T-Shirt!

Show Your Pride!In the spirit of visibility for National Coming Out Day, show your pride by writing any identity you are proud of on the front of your FREE Coming Out Day T-Shirt.

Wear these shirts in solidarity on
Friday, October 10, 2008!

FagBug Made the Misc!

There's a great article about Erin Davies and her visit to Vassar with the FagBug in this week's edition of the Miscellany News! If you didn't see a hard copy yet, check out the article online here.

Queer Movie Options - TONIGHT!

There are two queer movies being shown tonight, Wednesday, October 8:

Dyke Movie Night
8pm at the LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
We happily welcome all who self-identify as queer women or find a place within the community.
But I'm a Cheerleader
This candy-box colored comedy of sexual discovery chronicles the life of Megan, a typical teenager coming of age in anything but a typical fashion. Megan's super normal suburban existence is filled with friends, pom-poms and rah-rah enthusiasm until her straight-laced parents suspect that their "little poodle" may, in fact, be showing deviant tendencies. In a complete panic, Megan's parents elicit the help of her friends and the guidance of a rehabilitation camp to mount an all out intervention. Make, a True Directions counselor, leads the intervention and before Megan can pack her pom-poms she is whisked off to learn how to be a perfect woman. True Directions is run under the strict, all-seeing eyes of the sadistic Mary. Megan dutifully gets with the deprogramming so she can quickly return to her life of boyfriends, football games, and her absolute favorite activity - cheerleading. Everything seems perfect, but the fun begins when her hormones start to rage, and her friends and family wonder where she'll find love!

German Film Series
7:30pm at Chicago Hall German Lounge
Tobi and Achim have been best mates for years. As cox and oarsman, they have lead their rowing club to win several rowing cups in the past and are now looking forward to win a big regatta in the countryside of Germany. But this trip isn't your usual summer campus experience and problems soon arise. As Achim's relationship with his girlfriend Sandra, who's also on the team, grows more and more serious, Tobi starts to realize that his feelings for Achim run much deeper than he's willing to admit to himself. He feels confused, unsure of himself and increasingly left out by his friend Alex and the team. When Sandra's best friend Anke shows her interest in him, his anxiety starts to grow. When it turns out that the much-anticipated Berlin girls' team has been replaced by a team of athletic, cliche-bursting young gay men, Tobi and his teammates are suddenly forced to grapple with their prejudices, their fears, and, perhaps, their hidden longings. As the tension grows, Tobi, Achim and the others head towrds a confrontation as fierce and liberating as the summer storm that's gathering over the lake. And Tobi realizes he has to start facing some facts about himself he didn't dare to face before.

Is Gay Marriage Good or Bad?

A link to the following article was sent to the ACT OUT listserv by some members of Vassar's Radical Animal Rights Group:

In an effort to discuss various viewpoints on this blog, I wanted to post this side of the marriage debate as well. Any thoughts??

Pics from FagBug!

Thanks to everyone who made the FagBug program a huge success last Friday! Here are some pictures from Erin's visit with us:

Our ACT OUT friends getting ready to canvass the campus to help promote the evening presentation and their Marriage Equality fundraiser.

Erin Davies (FagBug driver) talking to students about her collection of notes that have been left on her car throughout her cross-country travels.

Our sneak peak at the FREE Coming Out Day T-shirts that will be available on Thursday, October 9 and Friday, October 10 in the College Center Atrium from 11am-3pm! (we will provide fabric markers for decorating the shirts)

Erin and the FagBug mascot (her dog, Hoosik) giving the intro for the FagBug documentary. (Keep your fingers crossed for Erin and look for her movie hopefully hitting film festivals soon!)

Revised Drop-In Hours

The LGBTQ Center will no longer be open on Tuesdays from 7:30-9pm. Instead, it will be open on Mondays from 3-4:30pm. Here are the updated drop-in hours for the center:

Sunday: 2-4:30pm
Monday: 3-4:30pm
Tuesday: 11am-12noon; 3-4pm
Wednesday: 7-9pm
Thursday: 12noon - 6pm; 7-9pm
Friday: 1-3pm; 4-6pm

As always, we encourage visitors during these hours! Come explore our resources, chat with the interns, use our computers, read a book/magazine, borrow a book, watch a movie, and more!

Old Enough to Know

(posted by guest blogger J. Gary Brinn, Tanenbaum Inter-religious Fellow, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life)

The camp was remote and there was no cell signal, so I was happy when I was finally able to get off camp and into the nearest small town. After a couple of stops my companions and I whipped out our cell phones, stood in the parking lot, and picked up voice mail. I had sixteen messages! I don’t get that many calls in a single week! What I had, in fact, was one call after another from my godson. Sky is an amazing kid, not just because he had his Equity card before he was ten, but because he is smart and creative and kind… all of the things you would expect a godfather to say. A year earlier, while I was at his house recovering from ankle surgery, Sky had tested the coming out waters with me. The summer of the frantic phone messages he was turning twelve, leaving the sixth grade. As far as I knew, I was the only person to whom Sky had revealed his affectional orientation.

It didn’t come as a shock. As much as I might hate stereotypes, Sky was a textbook example of “gay boy.” Flamboyant, flirty, you know the drill. His mother and I had even had several conversations that danced around the edges of the subject. My position was pretty simple: I love Sky and want to affirm him and who he is, even the flamboyant little queen in him. I don’t ever want to send him the message that its not okay to be yourself. But the rest of the world is not nearly that affirming. If we wanted him to survive, physically and emotionally, in a sometimes-cruel world, we needed to teach him when to tone it down.

The voice mail messages ran something like this: “I’m not going to be like that any more, I’m going to like sports, please, please, please call me…” The gasps and tears poured through the phone.

I later found out that on the last day of sixth grade a classmate had, in the middle of a crowded hallway, screamed “die you little faggot” at Sky. Here was a smart kid in a safe community, a kid with the resilience you develop as a Broadway actor, who was crushed by this one hate-filled verbal attack. It made me ask, once again, a question I have been asking for years: Is there a gap between the earlier age at which children can self-identify in a world of LGBTQ-inclusive media and the actual developmental skills and resilience it takes to become a member of a minority community? Sky came from privilege: white, affluent… his parents are even still married to one another! No one taught him what it means to fear for your own safety…

I asked this question again last winter. As part of my preparation for ordination in the United Church of Christ, I convened a conference on LGBTQ Middle-School students, asking how we serve the needs of this population, needs which are distinct from those of older youth. The conference was co-sponsored by Harvard, a number of religious denominations, and many other concerned organizations. We had religious professionals, teachers, social service professionals, and even a few young people. And we were very safe at our conference site in Boston’s Back Bay.

On the other side of the nation, Lawrence King was living in a group home, protected and affirmed by a California social services system that was LGBTQ friendly. A week later he was dead, shot by a classmate in his middle school. This murder even got the attention of the gay press. The “Advocate” asked if we didn’t share responsibility for the murder, as we had not given any thought to how the ever-younger queer youth we are affirming and sending out into the world were to survive.

I come from a different generation. There were no LGBTQ images in the media; alternative sexualities were not discussed in my family, community or church. I had no language to go with my own growing self-awareness. Most of you have grown up in a culture where LGBTQ images are everywhere. Even if you did not grow up in an affirming household, at least you had words for your feelings. It is not surprising that an eleven-year old boy who has a crush on another boy should attach the label “gay” to himself, just as the hetero-normative boy doesn’t need to attach any label. But is he ready for that label?

There will be more Sky’s. And I fear there will be more Lawrence King’s. Simply wishing for a world free of homophobia and hate won’t cut it. We need to think about how we can better serve these young people, can protect these young people. We need to think about how the good work we have done to increase the visibility of the LGBTQ community in the media has impacted children. We must roll up our sleeves and get to work. Lives depend on it.

ACT OUT Fundraiser

Monday, October 6
10am - 3pm in the Retreat
ACT OUT will be holding a fundraiser to support marriage equality in California.  Stop by during their tabling times to donate, make buttons, eat gayke, and learn about Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 is an initiative measure on the 2008 California General Election Ballot that threatens to eliminate the newly granted right for same-sex couples to marry in California.  If proposition 8 passes, it will add a section to the California Constitution that would state "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."  The wording of this initiative is confusing, and there are many advertisements in California that are encouraging people to vote "yes" on this measure.  ACT OUT will be raising money for counter-advertising in the state that will encourage people to vote "no" on proposition 8 and explain why.  Here's what Ellen Degeneres said about this in a blogpost on her website on October 3.
My Political Point...And I Do Have One
You know how usually I talk about cell phones or kitty cats or cheese pizza...well, this is sorta like that...without the cell phones, the cats, or the pizza.

There's a California Proposition on the ballot that's a little confusing.  It's Proposition 8.  It's called, "The California Marriage Protection Act" - but don't let the name fool you.  It's not protecting anyone's marriage.  Not yours.  Not mine.

The wording of Prop 8 is tricky.  It's like if someone asked you, "You don't want dessert, right?" But you do want dessert so you say, "Yes," which really means you don't want dessert.  And if you say, "No," which means you do want dessert - it sounds like you don't.  Either way, you don't get what you want.  See -- confusing. Just like Prop 8.

So, in case I haven't made myself clear, I'm FOR gay marriage.  And in order to protect that right - please VOTE NO on Proposition 8.  And now that you're informed, spread the word.  I'm begging you.  I can't return the wedding gifts - I love my new toaster.

So donate to ACT OUT's cause to help Ellen and Portia (and many other same-sex couples in California) stay legally married! Hopefully, all states will allow same-sex marriage soon...

Bill Konigsberg Meet & Greet

Sunday, October 5:  4-5pm in LGBTQ Center
Informal meet and greet with openly gay sports writer, and author of the new novel Out of the Pocket - about a high school football player who is gay

Bill Konigsberg is an award-winning sports journalist, who has written for television, newspapers, wire services, and the internet.  As a sports writer and editor for the Associated Press from 2005-08, he covered the New York Mets, and his weekly fantasy baseball column appeared across the country, from the New York Daily News to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  In May of 2001, while working as an assistant editor at ESPN.come, he came out on the front page of the website in an article entitled Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays.  That article won him a GLAAD Media Award the following year.  Since then, he has spoken at venues across the country about what it is like to be one of the few openly gay people in sports media.  He has written for, the New York Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, Denver Post, and North Jersey Herald and News.  His work has also appeared in Out Magazine and  His story was included as a chapter in the book Jocks 2: Coming Out to Play, by Dan Woog. 

The Gay Community?

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Yesterday at a meeting for all interns who work at the campus life office, one such intern brought up the idea that there really isn’t a gay community at Vassar. They said that those who identify as queer are divided up into little groups, cliques some might say, that never really socialize with other cliques. They brought it up because they didn’t feel there was a sense of unity in the queer community here, if one does indeed exist.

I agree with all of these ideas. Personally, I don’t choose my friends based on any criteria – if they’re likeable and show an interest in being my friend, that’s alright – they can call me their friend. I don’t restrict my friendships based on sexuality, ethnicity, gender, or other such categorical determinants. That said, I have recognized that in just the class of 2011, there is definitely at least one gay “clique,” of which I am not a part of, nor do I want to be a part of it.

Having established that they most certainly exist, are these cliques indicative of the existence of a queer community? No. What defines a true queer community? Unification. Concepts about which we all agree and around which we all coalesce. Concepts that promote queer “ideals” like marriage equality or widespread social acceptance of the spectrum of queer life.

Right now, there are a select few that involve themselves in queer organizations and go to events hosted by these organizations. Why is this? The only thing I can come up with right now is the possibility of a general apathy toward the advocating of queer ideals. Vassar is a “queer-friendly” campus – we’re so socially accepting of lifestyles different from our own that we don’t find a need to organize. We’d just be preaching to the choir, so to speak. What do you think?

FagBug - Friday, October 3

On Friday, October 3rd, Erin Davies and her FagBug will be at Vassar! Click here for the story about how a vandalism incident turned Erin into an activist on wheels.

Come see Erin with her car from 1-5pm on Main Drive (across the street from Main Circle). Incase of rain, Erin will be in the CC Atrium during this time

Come to the FagBug Presentation at 7pm in CC MPR to hear Erin's story and preview parts of her documentary about her cross-country travels with her car.

We will be unveiling our FREE Coming Out Day T-Shirts (see in post below) during the FagBug Presentation! Be the first to get your shirt to wear in solidarity on Friday, October 10.