The Lesbian Reevaluates

The Lesbian Reevaluates

Living LGBTQ
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Opening the doors of a closet can be as difficult as opening your chest to a stranger.

The closet. The deeply dark, claustrophobic space at the back of the room. The vault where your truth hangs beside rusty coat hangers and winter coats. The crack between the door and the floorboards let light in for brief and fleeting moments- but your truth deserves to live in the sun.

Sexuality is fluid- that is to say it is malleable and ever-changing. Fully understanding sexuality at a young age is like reading a graphic Steven King novel in the first grade- incredibly daunting and almost impossible to understand. As I head into my sophomore year of college, I can say with clenched fists and slight disappointment that I still do not fully understand the vast complexity of sexuality.

As young adults in the millennial age, we are fortunate to be given more acceptance and tolerance of our sexual orientation than we would have been given in the past. The willingness to tell our stories has become both a blessing and a curse.

I started to come out as a gay woman between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years old. Telling my story set me free of oppression and fear of discrimination. Being a member of the LGBTQ community has saved my life. I have gotten the opportunity to work alongside incredibly prominent organizations and meet wonderfully inspirational people. I have found an international family of tolerance and undying love with strangers who share similar stories. I am proud to identify as being a gay woman.

However, being gay is not my whole identity. When I was younger, I thought it was.

For a long time I thought that being gay was the most important part of me. While I find pride, strength, and incredible love within my sexuality- it is not all that I am. It does not have to define me. It is not everything.

In my freshman year of college, I met a man that changed my perspective. He and I shared an emotional connection that was beyond what I had found with anyone in the past. I found myself developing feelings for him- which frightened me. How could I be myself attracted to a man when I'd built up my entire identity around being gay? What was I? Who was I?

I was terrified of the prospect of coming out "again". What would my friends and family think? Would I be confirming the stereotypes that I was only a lesbian until I "met the right man"?

No. Absolutely not.

This is when I learned the fluidity of sexuality and the importance of freeing yourself from shame. It does you far less good to refuse your own feelings because you THINK you should not have them.

I know that I was born gay. Identifying as a lesbian is the sexual orientation I've chosen to label the way in which I was born. I also know that I was born with an open mind and a deeply powerful spirit that is not always understood. If I meet a woman (or man) who I feel connected to- I will open myself up to the prospect of that love despite the fact that it contradicts the label of my sexual orientation.

Many would say that this would make me bisexual, or sexually fluid. I still choose to identify as a lesbian. However, I refuse to put myself in an inescapable box. While I certainly prefer women, I will allow myself to love whomever comes into my life who loves me back.

I used to define myself by a label. The pride and passion that I have within myself and my sexuality is undying. It is perhaps the strongest part of my spirit.

However, what I've learned along the way, is that identifying yourself solely on a basis of sexuality is just as suffocating as being in the closet.

Be proud of the many aspects of who you are. Be unafraid if something different comes into your life. Allow yourself to be constantly questioning what comes along your path. Allow yourself to be open minded and open hearted. Always choose to love, even if it is not what you expected it to be. Love anyway.

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Inspired by the spoken word poem The Lesbian Reevaluates by Blythe Baird.

Cover Image Credit: Google

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Please, If You're Somehow Still Using The 'R Word'— Leave That Habit In 2018

Come on guys, its 2018. Google a new word.

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Maybe it was because I witnessed two boys get in trouble in elementary school for using this word as an insult.

Maybe it's because I fell in love with a thing called Camp Able. Maybe it's because one of my best friends is a special ed major. Or maybe it's because I try to be a decent human being. I do not use the R word.

Until this past semester, I hadn't really heard anyone use it often despite one encounter in 6th grade. Most of my best friends I have met while serving at places like Camp Able or Camp Bratton Green where summers are dedicated to people with diverse-abilities. I think having been surrounded with like-minded people for so long made me forget that some people still use it as an expression.

Let me tell you, it's annoying.

The word itself has been brushed off even in a "scientific" sense. It means to be slowed down, but it has stretched far beyond that meaning and has turned into an insult.

It's an insult of comparison.

Like any word, the power behind it is given by the user and most times, the user uses it to demean another person. It's like when you hear someone say "that's gay."

Like, what? Why is that term being used in a derogatory sense?

Why is someone's sexuality an insult? Hearing someone use the R-word physically makes me cringe and tense up. It makes me wonder what truly goes on in someone's mind. People will argue back that it's "just a word" and to "chill out," but if it was just a word, why not use something else?

There is a whole world full of vocabulary waiting to be used and you're using something that offends a whole community. Just because you don't care, it does not mean it shouldn't matter. Just use a different word and avoid hurting a person's feeling, it really is just that simple.

There is not a good enough reason to use it.

I volunteer at two summer camps: Camp Bratton Green and Camp Able. If you know me, I talk nonstop about the two. More realistically, if you know me, it's probably because I met you through one of the two. Even before I was introduced to the love at Camp Able, I still knew that this was a word not to use and it never crossed my mind to think of it.

The history behind the R-word goes back to describe people with disabilities but because of the quick slang pick up it was sort of demoted from the psychology world. Comparing someone or something that is negative to a word that you could easily avoid speaks volumes about who you are as a person.

The word is a word, but it is subjective in its meaning and in its background.

Just stop using it.

A List of Objective Words/Phrases to Use:

Fool/Foolish

Blockhead

Nincompoop

Silly

Ludicrous

Dim-witted

Trivial

Naive

"A few beads short on the rosary"

"On crack or something"

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Gillette's Toxic Masculinity Commercial Is Exactly What America Needs Right Now

It's starting a discussion on a higher level.

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If you haven't seen the new Gillette commercial, it is a discussion and commentary on toxic masculinity from the #MeToo movement. The commercial, titled "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be," discusses controversial topics like bullying, sexual harassment and toxic masculinity.

We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film) YouTube

Many may think that this commercial will be bad for Gillette's "brand" per se. The commercial comes in a controversial time with a controversial discussion. Although, it doesn't seem like Gillette cares. Gillette's North American brand director, Pankaj Bhalla, said, "We expected debate. Actually, a discussion is necessary. If we don't discuss and don't talk about it, I don't think real change will happen."

Gillette wanted today's grown men to become role models for younger males. Gillette wants to start the discussion and stray away from the toxic statement "boys will be boys."

Why is this commercial so important to America right now? Well, frankly it's because we need change. We're at a time where many subjects like the #MeToo movement are happening, but not much is being done. This Gillette commercial will air on televisions across the nation and hopefully spark a change in men around the world.

The commercial sheds light on toxic masculinity, bullying and sexual assault. Hopefully, it will do more than teach young men not to indulge in these behaviors by also encouraging fully grown men to teach younger men not to engage in these unhealthy habits.

America needs this commercial because it will hopefully be a lead for change. It was similar to what we saw in this country with the Black Lives Matter movement. After the publicity of the movement skyrocketed, we saw more representation of black people in movies, news and just about everywhere. Maybe this Gillette commercial will be able to spark the same amount of revolution around the topic of #MeToo and toxic masculinity.

Hopefully, this commercial starts a discussion about avoiding behaviors that create toxic men. Hopefully, it teaches young boys that it's OK to stand up to bullying, it's OK to cry, it's OK not to be the poster boy of masculinity that society expects. That's what America needs to fix the problems that it is facing.

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