My Binary

(Posted by Nick, '11)
I live two lives. In fact, I think I live several different lives. I’m different people when I’m around different people. But these personalities fall into two overarching categories: home and school. I’m not more of myself in either one of these places… I just act differently.

At home, I’m not out, so that’s obviously one of the reasons I have a different personality there. At home, I’m a more muted version of my school self; I don’t think I’m as outrageous and outgoing at home, though I still do talk a lot. Even so, at home I feel I’m more introspective, definitely quieter, than I am at school. And it’s a welcome change of pace from the high-energy life that Vassar demands of me.

People always ask me, “Nick, isn’t it hard to go home and go back in the closet? To live a lie?” They’re always surprised when I tell them that I don’t feel I’m living a lie; that school and home are two separate personal spheres for me. I don’t have a boyfriend at home, so that part of my life doesn’t come up there, and I don’t see an immediate need to come out. Why rock the boat when it’s smooth sailing? Of course, the waters will become choppier once I do find a significant other at home. But until that time does come, I’m content with staying where I am.

Besides that, my house is a very desexualized zone. When I was dating my girlfriends (yes, I’ve had them), it was always an awkward environment to be in. My parents never really address sexuality at home; it’s a very taboo topic. Maybe it’s the Roman Catholic in them, maybe it’s because they’re just too scared to do so. I was never given “the talk” by my dad – that was done in 6th grade of elementary school with my school district’s Project Know program. I also have a 5-year-old sister, and of course my parents don’t want to ask about my sex life in front of the little kids (I also have 3 younger siblings). But they’ve never asked about the girls at school, ever. They don’t inquire into my personal life. And that’s just fine with me.

It helps keep the spheres apart.

Not just a phase....

Posted by Logan, '10One of the things we discussed at the first Fruit Salad of last semester was the myth that bisexuality doesn't actually exist, that it is a phase on the way to coming out as gay. Well, the APA has something to say about that:

Real World Brooklyn

As you may or may not know, this season of Real World, set in Brooklyn, is the first to feature a cast member who is openly transgender. We find out within the first episode that KateLynn is a transwoman.

I have very mixed feelings about Real World and, until now, have not watched a season since the Hawaii cast turned the show into one big naked drunk fest. However, it is important to note that Real World has a history of being very progressive, especially with its portrayal of LGBT cast members. Almost every season of Real World has featured at least one gay or lesbian housemate. In some seasons, this caused drama. In others, it provided education about the queer community and undeniably led to greater acceptance of gay and lesbian people. The third season of Real World, which took place in San Francisco in 1994, featured Pedro - an openly gay AIDS activist who was living with AIDS at the time. Many argue that Pedro's appearance on Real World helped to put a friendly face to the disease and contributed greatly to getting young people involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

So KateLynn will no doubt help to bring trans issues to Real World's mainstream audience. But the question I can't answer yet is, will this be a good thing? It is unfair to expect KateLynn to speak on behalf of the entire transgender community; however, for many viewers, she will be the first trans person many people see and learn about. This has already sparked transphobic comments on many of the Real World blogs and comment pages. Beyond how KateLynn portrays herself as a transwoman, the reactions of her castmates will be very influential in mainstream society as well. After 3 episodes, she has officially come out to 3 of her 7 roommates, who have all been very accepting. There has been speculation and gossip behind her back from other roommates she has not come out to yet, but in my opinion this has made them look bad, not KateLynn.

Aside from KateLynn being transgender, this cast is being dubbed as the "gayest" cast yet. Rather than KateLynn being the "token" LGBT member, there is also J.D. who is openly gay and Sarah who does not label herself, but has only dated women until her current relationship, which is with a man. And then there is Chet, a mormon metrosexual who is often perceived as gay. There is speculation that Chet might come out as questioning by the end of the series, but so far he identifies as straight. I agree with many that people's sexual orientation and/or gender identity should not matter and be discussed as their defining characteristics. However, the influence of Real World cannot be ignored.

If you have not been watching the season so far, I recommend getting caught up on episodes here. I would love to hear your opinion about how queer issues are being handled this season -- please leave your thoughts in the comments section, or e-mail me (jusilverstein@vassar.edu) a full blog post to publish. I will revisit this topic at the end of the Real World season with a more indepth analysis of the queer aspects of the season.

Spring 2009 Updates

Drop-in Hours for Spring 2009:
Starting Monday, January 26, the LGBTQ center will be open during the following times:

Monday: 2-4pm
Wednesday:
10-4pm, 7-9pm
Friday:
12-6pm

During these hours, the LGBTQ Center will be open and we encourage visitors! Please feel free to come explore our resources, chat with the interns, use our computers, read a book/magazine, watch a movie, and much more! Food is allowed in the center with a "bring your own & clean up afterwords" policy. (However, alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited)

These are the hours we will always be open, but there will be other random open times as well. Feel free to stop by if you are in the area in case we are open, or e-mail me at jusilverstein@vassar.edu to schedule an appointment. I hope to see you soon!

Library Update:
Over the winter break, our library books that were being stored in Blegen House were moved to a new location in Main Building. This will make our book borrowing system more efficient; however, we need some time to get the new library organized first. Until further notice, the only books we are able to loan out are the ones currently located in the LGBTQ Center (CC 235). Thank you for your patience during this process.

Art as Activism: HerStory

Tonight: Wednesday, January 21
7pm @ UpCDC


The Vassar First Year Presents the second annual
Art as Activism
Self. Society. Identity. Community
HerStory: 4 different women from 4 different backgrounds. 4 voices, and one story.

HerStory is a live performance about love, pain struggle, and triumph, spoken over poetry, melody and song, tear shed, and laughter.

With opening act by Raymon Azcona, '12
**$300 in raffle prizes for students!**
(must be present to win)

Check out a preview here:

video

Presidential Inauguration Viewing on Campus

I know many of you moved back to campus this past weekend - so welcome back everyone! The LGBTQ Center will not be officially open until next week (beginning Monday, January 26), but there are a couple of events before then that I encourage everyone to attend. Here is one of them going on tomorrow:

Campus Gathering and TV Viewing in Commemoration of Martin Luther King Day and the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
11am-1pm @ Villard Room
Free Pizza and Soda will be served - All are invited!










Sponsored by the Africana Studies Program, Department of Political Science, Women's Studies Program, Office of Campus Life, Vassar College Democrats, African Students Union, Asian Students Alliance, and other campus organizations.

A Shot at Love...

Posted by Eva, '12Last year, my friend told me that he had officially found the worst show on television: A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. I had heard a bit about it, but didn’t really know more beyond the basic premise: a bisexual woman on a dating show. So I got kind of bored over break and was watching TV online when I stumbled across this very same show. I decided to check it out, to see if it was as bad as my friend had said. And, because I get very easily addicted to terrible things, I soon had watched all of the first season.

Let me tell you. It is bad. Very bad. Imagine ‘The Bachelor” combined with “Jerry Springer” combined with every single stereotype of a bisexual women you can think of. Why is it so bad? It discredits bisexuals as people who need to figure out if they are into guys or into girls. Girls competed against girls and guys competed against guys, instead of people competing against people. It also totally played up the promiscuous stereotype.

But nothing in this show was as bad as the third season. By now they have gotten rid of Tila and changed the show around a little bit. What do we get? “A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins.” Wow. Two bisexual blonde identical twins. Who are both “looking for love.” They do this by making out with EVERYONE (except each other). It is basically the stereotypical fantasy of a heterosexual man: make out with one blonde with large boobs and little clothing and then turn around and make out with her identical twin. If I thought that Tila was promiscuous and playing up that stereotype, these twins are even worse.

This show disgusted me from the first episode. The twins decided to play a trick on the contestants, but not revealing that there were two of them. They switch in and out, pretending to be the same girl. Finally one of the twins collects all of the contestants and says that she has a secret. She was born with “an extra part.” The way the editing played this up, combined with the comments of the contestants, it was made to seem like she was born with a penis. Of course, the viewers know what is going on, but the reaction that the contestants have, combined with the effect the producers want this to have on the viewers, is disgusting. I don’t know if they were poking fun at intersex people or trans people, but either way it was not cool.

It was so bad, but for some strange reason I kept on watching. I saw all 6 episodes that are currently on the MTV website. They have narrowed it down to 4 contestants, but I am still not sure if both twins are going to pick the same person, or they are each going to pick one of there own, or what they are going to do.

I guess one of the real problems that I have with this type of show is that it falls into the “furthering stereotypes” and “lesbians/bisexuals exist for the erotic pleasure of straight men” categories. I mean, seriously, can you imagine a bisexual man being given the same show. Real men kissing on tv? Never.

I dunno. I just feel like this is erasing any progress we may have made. I think back to the first Fruit Salad we did, on bisexuality, and this plays into everything that we discussed; being bi is a high school fad for girls (and now a pop hit thanks to Katy Perry), a bisexual just needs to figure out if they are into guys or into girls, I can keep on going on but I think you get my point... Oh yeah, one more thing. Everyone is drunk all of the time. Seriously. You hardly ever see them drinking anything but alcohol…

Watch this for a summary of the season:

"Faghag"

(posted by guest blogger, Emily)
I really despise when people call me a fag hag. It’s not what I am. I am a single, Jewish woman who likes dating straight Jewish men. I wish I could pick them up the way I can gay men.

I was walking to the subway one night after karaoke with my girlfriends. We had been in a Disney state of mind and were still singing. Walking along the platform we were belting “bright young women, sick of swimming” and as we sang “ready to stand” a guy in a three piece suit joined in. By the end of the song and subway ride, I had his card and an invitation to join him at a piano bar the next weekend.

This isn’t a newfound talent. I’ve had it all my life. I know picking a college should be based on education. I was ready for a fresh start. New friendships and definitely new men. One deciding factor when it came down to my final three choices was the male to female ratio. The school I chose had a greater male to female ratio. I thought that meant more men to date.

Not quite, I was collecting gay men everywhere I went. My parent’s jokingly called me a magnet. I met them at orientation, residence life activities, in the cafeteria. And I was happy. Making friends had never been this easy for me, but these were people I could call friends. Many of them I still do. I remember calls home to my mother. [They still sound like this sometimes.]

“Hey Mom, I was hanging out with a new guy today.”

“Jewish, single?”

“Well, not quite – he’s single and gay!”

It hasn’t been much different in the working world. I’ve had jobs at movie theatres, not-for-profit theatres, a fortune 500 company and a museum. Yes, majority of my jobs have been in the arts community. However, when I explain my knack to people [and my theory that men are gay until proven straight] they like to claim my background in the arts as the reason why.

I think it’s deeper than that. After years of analysis I’ve come to the conclusion that I share something in common with this population of men. An urge to fit in. My lifelong battle with self-esteem issues melts away when I have my gay male friends around. They love me for who I am and get me. I love them and am blessed to have such wonderful men in my life - but I want more. Someday I want to be a straight man’s wife.