LGBT Opening Is Opportunity to Celebrate

By Kristin Rushforth, Advisor, LGBT Resource Center

Hi. My name is Kristin, and I’m “queer.” More on that later. I also use the “F” word quite a bit, and I plan to use it, for emphasis, later in this article. In order to alleviate the anxiety?the wide-spread panic?that I just struck in the hearts of many of my dear readers, permit me to explain. One of my gay male students told me this joke: “What is the ‘F’ word if you’re a gay guy?” The answer? “Fabulous. Because if you say it, everyone will know that you’re a fag.”

Two months ago I was hired to advise, counsel, advocate the best interests of, and to some extent, even represent the queer community here at the U?an awesome task, in every sense of the term. For whatever it’s worth, I want to share a bit of my own story in order to demonstrate what it’s like being queer here, in Salt Lake City, and at the U.

I recently moved back “home” (because I so dearly missed my Mountains and my Desert…my Sacred Places) after a rambunctious (to say the least) three years in the Lower East Village, Manhattan. Most days, I probably spend several hours (cumulatively) wondering why I moved back here, why I “came out” here, what the “heck” to do next, and at least 30 minutes browsing Delta’s online flight schedule for the next available flight to Amsterdam, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Zurich?anywhere I feel that I can just be me without having to pay such high prices.

Not that I’m wealthy, and can afford to pay next-day international airfares. But I was a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, Inc. until Nov. 1, upon which day I was “released from duty” thanks to your friend and mine, Osama. (More about that “bastard” [Sen. Orrin Hatch’s word, not mine] later, if I haven’t exceeded my word limit and if I can make it seem relevant.)

Anyway, it sucked to lose my job. But I ended up with a better (albeit much more difficult) one, and I still have free flight privileges. My cup is at least half full. On a good day, that is. On a bad day, I feel sorry for myself. I become a pouting little victim, singing, under my breath, through the quiet halls of the Olpin Union, “Nobody likes me, Everybody hates me, I’m gonna go eat worms…”

Because the reality of being “out” about being “queer” here is that you really are judged and even disdained by a great many folks you must interact with on a daily basis. Your character is called into question just because of whom you love, and (most daunting of all) you must constantly fend for your own safety. Every time you meet a new person, every time you step into a new classroom, even every time you enter a public restroom, you must ask yourself: Am I safe to be who I really am? Or must I try to disguise myself? Need I put on the “straight jacket;” pretend to be someone I am not in order to protect myself from emotional and/or physical violence?

One of our “queer peer” support group volunteers asked me one day, “Don’t you think queers are one of the last, and most fiercely hated target groups left? Sometimes it seems to me that bigotry against gay and lesbian people is actually en vogue.”

He was entitled to feel that way that day. Earlier, during a psychology class, another young man had raised his hand and stated that “all the lesbos and gays” should be rounded up and sent to a far-off, deserted island. He thought he was being terribly funny…”Then we’ll see how long their species lasts,” he chuckled.

There were at least three LGBT students in the class, and probably several other queer folks. I know there were at least three LGBT students because three separate, independent complaints reached me. In the first half of this sentence, we (queer people) are to be cast off?exiled from the rest of humanity, and (as if that’s not bad enough) by the second half of the sentence, queers are actually being cast (not entirely subtly) as an entirely separate “species.”

The implications of this kind of hateful comment are very far-reaching. To make a long talking-to short, I want to say to this fine young homophobe: You are far more like me than you are different from me, and I am far more like you than you want to know.

I am Kristin , and I am queer?of the bisexual variety, to be more exact. My “sexual identity” is that I am “bisexual,” though I ever so hate being forced into a box, I do suppose it fits, as I have had sexual and/or romantic relationships with lovers of “both” (as if there are only two) genders over the years. I have been “out” as bisexual to carefully selected friends and family members since I was 16…let’s see, that’s going on six years now (grin). Anyway, there is much, much more to who I really am than my sexual identity. Quite frankly, it is simply not the biggest part of who I am.

I am Kristin. I am a poet and a wanna-be filmmaker. I am compassionate. I have baby blue eyes and auburn hair. I love Autumn in Paris. I have a sizeable stamp, coin and postcard collection from all over the world. I have a little black dog with a big under bite named Sassy. I adopted her nine months ago. I didn’t name her, but it fits. I almost got killed the other day, saving her from a garbage truck. She darted out, the thought flashed into my mind: I’d rather die right here and now than live without her…and I darted after her, without due consideration, flinging myself in front of the truck and almost killing both of us. Luckily, the driver slammed on his brakes and squeaked to within an inch of our lives. The driver let out a spew of obscenities unlike anything I’ve heard since I stiffed a New York City cabbie his tip because he had been so rude. I suppose I share this story to illustrate how much I love my damn dog (just like you?).

Well, this is getting long, so let me try to get to the point: Today, we celebrate the official grand opening of the LGBT Resource Center at the U. The students, staff, administrators and faculty members at this university who have worked to make the center a reality?both those who are bravely “out” members of the LGBT community, as well as our straight allies?have much to be proud of.

LGSU, the U’s Lesbian and Gay Student Union, is one of the oldest, largest and strongest LGBT student organizations in the country.

Today, we celebrate being queer. We celebrate sexual identity diversity. We celebrate ourselves, we celebrate one another, and we celebrate you.

I invite each and every one of you to come celebrate being “queer” with us because I believe that each and every one of us, in some way shape or form, is queer. Each and every one of us is extra ordinary, outside the boring norm in one remarkable way or another?each and every one of us is audacious, outrageous and fabulous, Darling, simply fabulous?in our own, unique way.

Kristin is the adviser at the U’s LGBT Resource Center. She welcomes feedback at: [email protected].