By Cheyene Miller
Sexual terminology and a changing culture were discussed Tuesday evening at “Under the Rainbow,” an open discussion on being part of the LGBTQ* community that involved students, faculty and staff.
Students were encouraged to have honest and open discussions with one another, and topics ranged from the usage of pronouns to the difference between gender and sex.
Students began the discussion by going around the room and introducing themselves, stating their preferred pronoun in the process.
“We never really have went into why we use pronouns,” said junior Michael Frazier, the chair of OUTsource and a triple major in economics, political science and philosophy. Frazier and students talked about how it shouldn’t be considered offensive to inquire about someone’s gender identity, and how one’s biological gender can be different from the gender they actually feel.
“It gives that mutual respect for recognizing the person for who they are,” said Frazier, who noted that research has found that sexual preference and gender identity can be measured on a large spectrum. “It’s a respect factor to use the pronoun that they prefer even if they don’t look like that on the outside.”
Merchandising, apparel and textile senior Keenen McMillan added that he thinks it’s often a more uncomfortable question for the person asking than the person answering.
“If you ever meet someone and you have a question, ask them,” McMillan said. “The worst thing you can do is just assume. You have to be comfortable with asking it.”
McMillan also noted that by asking questions, one can change the culture about the way people talk about issues regarding gender and sexuality.
“It’s actually encouraged to talk about it, that way it gets better,” McMillan said.
Students also discussed how people often misconstrue the difference between sexual preference and gender identity. One example floated was the erroneous belief that a gay man might want to be a woman.
“That’s a huge misconception,” Frazier said. “These are separate things.”
McMillan added that gender expression is fluid and said that he himself will wear baggy pants and a fitted hat on one day, and on another, he’ll wear tight jeans and a bowtie, illustrating that masculine and feminine dress can be fluid as well.
Also discussed was how professors should be included when clarifying one’s preferred pronoun in the classroom setting.
“We are in a culture of change,” Frazier said. “It should be the faculty and staff that creates that environment.”