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we're not trying to recruit, but maybe we should be - pie for breakfast
April 14th, 2014
10:07 pm

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we're not trying to recruit, but maybe we should be

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From:wayman
Date:April 15th, 2014 12:24 pm (UTC)
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Where I grew up (the South), the teaching I received was sort of a "one-drop theory" -- "if you do any sort of gay thing once, you are gay, and thank goodness you haven't done any sort of gay thing, because we cast out those who do, but thankfully such people are very, very rare and largely encountered in literature, so you probably don't have to worry too much". So, no distinction between "what you are" and "what you do".

Also, the received teaching was that "queer" consisted of two categories, which were just two differently-gendered versions of the same thing (gay and lesbian). "Bi" couldn't really exist -- the sense I had gained was that once you found yourself interested/involved with a same-gendered person, a line had been crossed (... or, a norm had been transgressed...) and that was that. "Trans" didn't even exist as a concept. Not that this was ever directly talked about -- one would never do that, especially in a formal pedagogical setting.

I came to Swarthmore having No Idea that gender might not be a clear-cut either-or thing; and I gained awarenes of "bi-ness" as a possibility over my years there. At eighteen I had no idea that both of these might explain some very basic things about myself that I'd been observing and very, very confused and ashamed by for a few years by that point.

I don't remember anything in Topics in Human Sexuality about the gender non-binary. Was it there at all? If it was, perhaps encountering THS during a culture-shock time meant I wasn't in a place to absorb that information or process it and consider what might apply to me. I sort of got "bi-ness" during college, but gender didn't really start to click until some years after.

In fewer words, yes, I think I agree with most of what's been said here.
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From:sildra
Date:April 15th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
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That's more or less the experience I had learning about queerness, growing up in LA (and being... I think 5 grades younger than you? which is enough to make for a big cultural difference itself on this topic), except that by the time I graduated high school I definitely knew what bi meant, because my senior year a friend mentioned to me that she had a cousin who was bi, and I didn't have to ask what that meant, so obviously I had already run across the concept somewhere. There was definitely a tension between the "one-drop theory" and the concept of bi-ness, though, and I wasn't really sure how to reconcile those. Right after graduation, a classmate was outed as "gay" by some bullies, and (since I was one of the rare kids openly advocating for gay rights and therefore safe) he confided to me he was really bi with a preference for boys, and actually explained to me what that meant, so arriving at college I did already have a reasonably consistent set of definitions of terms.

Oh, and also,whether it was rare or not, received wisdom was that it was something we had to worry about. Discussion of gay rights in social science class (which happened a lot because there was an anti gay marriage law on the ballot that year) usually devolved into an argument between the Christians who felt that if you met a gay person you should show them Christian kindness by non-violently shunning them, and the bigots who felt that if you met a gay person it was only natural to want to beat them up and no one should be blamed for giving in to that impulse.

I don't remember whether or not I'd ever heard the word "trans" before college, but it was basically a new concept to me in college.
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From:q10
Date:April 15th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
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i have left a comment in my locked followup post about the analogous part of my history.
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From:wayman
Date:April 15th, 2014 11:40 pm (UTC)
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That post isn't showing up in my feed. If you'd like to share it with me, I'd be glad of the opportunity to continue this discussion.
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From:q10
Date:April 15th, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
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you've been assigned to the appropriate filter. i apologize for the prior omission.
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