LGBT Summer 2013 Study Abroad Course to Mexico
Thursday February 14th 2013, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Current News
Cross-Cultural Perspectives in LGBT Identities (WSTU 3170)
Guadalajara/Puerto Vallarta Mexico – Summer 2013: July 27-August 18
3 Credit Course in LGBT Minor & Women’s Studies
Explore LGBT Guadalajara & Puerto Vallarta
Visit UNESCO Heritage Sites & Meet Local LGBT Students
Practice Spanish and Make New Friends!
For more information or to register: http://studyabroad.gwu.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=3106
Stephen Forssell (Psychology Department Faculty): firstname.lastname@example.org
Timothy Kane (LGBT Resource Center Director): email@example.com
Coming Out Gay-mer
Many people in your life may harness a dangerous secret; your hairdresser, mail carrier, or concierge may suffer from degenerate urges and desires. Their day-to-day actions might appear normal, but if their secret were to be revealed they would risk social disownment. Yes, my friends, whether you choose to believe it or not, anyone around you might be…a geek.
According to a highly influential and reliable online database—aka. Wikipedia—the term “geek” references “odd or non-mainstream people, with different connotations ranging from ‘a computer expert or enthusiast’ to ‘a person heavily interested in a hobby,’ with a general pejorative meaning…the term is also often used self-referentially without malice or as a source of pride.” From my experience, I tend to agree with this definition. For me, geeks represent those with an interest in socially stigmatized hobbies: playing video games, watching anime, reading comics or fantasy/sci-fi series, trading-card games, table top games, “Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games” (MMORPGs), and/or “Live Action Role Playing” games (“LARPing”).
I imagine that you’re aghast—appalled, even—by the very notion that one of your friends or family members may spend their Friday nights shuffling “Magic” cards, or traversing the pixilated plains of “Skyrim” over a bag of nacho cheese Doritos and Mountain Dew. I understand if the thought of your brother or sister discussing Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” comics while rolling a twenty sided dice and charting their “Dungeons and Dragons” adventures causes you to swallow a tiny bit of your own vomit. But I ask you: how many more geeks does god need to put on this Earth before we realize that they are okay?
Now, many of you may also say that I am over exaggerating, and that we have made great strides in the liberation and visibility of geeks in our society. No longer are all geeky hobbies associated with a lack of personal hygiene or a perpetual state of virginity. Nor is it solely associated with men: many women have begun to come out from their mother’s basements and proudly relive their “World of Warcraft” guild quests for all that will listen. We’re even seeing geeks portrayed positively in mainstream media; shows like “The Big Bang Theory” have worked to humanize these folks, going so far as to show them openly engaging in romantic/sexual relationships!
Bringing geeky activities into the acceptance is a challenge that is near and dear to my heart. I am not just a geek-ally; I am a self-identified geek. “You are a geek?!” you may exclaim! “But you’re a gay man! You’ve lost your virginity, make every effort to take care of your skin, and (on most days) dress yourself well!” However, when I’m not singing along to the late-and-great Whitney Houston, writing a paper on the intrinsic queer discourse of late nineteenth-century American regionalist authors, or working out, I’m sitting behind one of my three video game controllers (a Wii-mote, X-Box 360, or PS3 controller) playing Japanese role playing games, catching up on the most recent “Doctor Who” reboot, or planning for a Magic pre-release event. I am not ashamed—but once, I felt I should have been.
I was into geeky pastimes long before I ever considered my sexual orientation; my all-time favorite holiday memory was finding a Super Nintendo mysteriously hooked into my television when I was seven years-old (Santa apparently had extra time during his gift run). I often whizzed through my homework assignments for the opportunity to finish a difficult level in “Donkey Kong Country,” “Zelda,” or any host of iconic Nintendo video games. It got worse in middle school: I discovered the “Final Fantasy” series, and simultaneously fell in with a crowd of boys who were obsessed with trading card games. I found myself reading science-fiction and fantasy books, notably Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings series. All the while, I was blossoming as a singer/actor—well, within the limits of my pubescent body and voice, that is—and loved learning about new musicals and music theory.
By the time I made it to high school, I felt many of my hobbies come under scrutiny from my peers. Weren’t we becoming too old to play video games and keep up with Pokemon? The issue became more apparent when I came out of the closet; not only did greater society see my hobbies as strange, but so did the gay community of my high school. There was limited solace amongst my fellow geek-minded friends or within the world of gaming: when I had come out, there were no gay icons that I could readily identify amongst my interests, and the homophobic vernacular that exists within the gaming community was becoming more prevalent in the wake of online console games (i.e. “Call of Duty”). Feeling trapped, I decided to repress my geeky interests and focus on my singing and acting.
As time has gone by, I have become more at ease with my geeky hobbies and have continued with them (most notably video games). I largely attribute this to a group of incredibly supportive allies/fellow queer folks during my undergraduate years who shared in my hobbies. But I still get odd responses from those in and out of the LGBTQ community. Well-intentioned heterosexuals are often aghast when I tell them how I spend my downtime (“wait, you would rather do that on a Friday night than go to ‘Towne?’”). Within the queer community, I still find people snickering when I tell them what I do in my spare time, and I have noticed definite hierarchies regarding what activities are seen as socially acceptable; I have met more and more video game loving queer folks, but I continue to get concerned looks when I mentioned that I have recently attempted to get back into the trading-card scene.
I could launch into a heavy queer theory discourse regarding the repercussions of such destructive inter-community behaviors, but I will opt instead to focus on the personal message: people exist in all shapes, sizes, colors and credos regardless of how or if they label themselves as a member of the LGBTQ community. But when I first arrived here at Mason as a grad student, I had admittedly forgotten that notion. It took me a while to walk into our LGBTQ resource office at first, for I feared it would have involved going through a rigorous test to see if I “qualified” as a gay man. In actuality, our Resources Offece the broadest spectrum of queer identified individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting: some are as geeky as myself (many even more so), some are activists, some are hardcore academics, some are athletes, and many enjoy combinations of these things! I attribute that eclectic mix of people I have met through the LGBTQ Resources Center to the continued efforts of the office’s staff to maintain and promote inclusivity.
I can also breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I do not feel alone; the first ever “gayming conference” has been slated to take place in August of 2013 in San Fransisco as a way to create a safe and inclusive space for “gaymers” across the nation (who knows…maybe my future husband will be lurking amongst the ranks there!). In the meantime, however, I have stopped living in shame of my geekiness. So, for all of you fellow self-identified geeks out there, regardless of your orientation, I urge you to let your geek flag fly!
LGBTQ Study Resources!
Friday December 07th 2012, 5:12 pm
Filed under: on campus
I bet you have at least once considered doing a project, paper, or other assignment for one or more of your classes on a topic within the scope of LGBTQ studies. Be it queer theory, sexuality, gender expression, et cetera, George Mason University libraries info guides now have a resource for you! The LGBTQ Studies info guide!
You now have so many resources available in just a few clicks of the mouse. Need a journal article? The info guide has links to numerous databases such as ProQuest, LGBTQ Life, GenderLife, and more. You also have access to search for books, ebooks, videos, and other media, to online research resources such as GLBTQ Encyclopedia, OUT History, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (and more), and to several local resources such as LGBTQ media and action groups.
Now that the GMU library has made this LGBTQ Studies info guide, you can do the assignment you always wanted to do. Visit, learn, apply, and repeat!
VCU Coach Fired Because….?
Friday November 30th 2012, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Current News
Coach James Finley worked for Virginia Commonwealth University as the Women’s Volleyball coach for eight years. This past season he enjoyed a perfect graduation and a 25-6 season. So why was he fired by VCU’s new Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin?
Coach James Finley
Coach Finley says it was because he is gay, and McLaughlin isn’t willing to have a LGBTQ staff member in a leading position.
What’s next? Well, Finley would like his job back. He filed a claim of discrimination with the University, which will be investigated. His husband, acting as his lawyer, is confident in their claim, though acknowledges discrimination is hard to prove. With the treatment of Coach Finley and others by McLaughlin, we can hope Finley will be back at work in time for the next season.
HIV/AIDS Awareness Week!
Thursday November 29th 2012, 12:55 pm
Filed under: on campus
Today and tomorrow there will be free confidential HIV testing from 9am to 5pm
No needles, preliminary results in 20 minutes.
The AIDS memorial quilt will be on display on all three campuses is various locations.
Free healthy hook up kits are available around campus.
Student health services also provides HIV testing by appointment.
Sponsored by WAVES (formerly SAS and ADHE)