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Do you know the difference between gender identity and sexual preference.. or how they work together?.. ya me either.

This semester I just needed some extra credits, so I decided to take an elective with a friend of mine. Introduction to gay and lesbian studies. Why in the world am I taking this class you ask? Honestly, I do not really know. I have a few guesses which include wanting to be more educated, being interested, and a need to understand. I hate when people claim to be “against” something purely because they are uneducated.. I have the opportunity to educate myself on this subject and from there I can continue to educate others. Why wouldn’t I want to do that?

Some background… this is not an entirely new subject for me, my best friend and a few other really good friends are gay. I thought I understood. You are born a boy and like boys, you are born a girl and like girls, you like both sexes, or you are born one sex and want to be the opposite. Simple enough right?.. NO WAYYY

So, I walk into class and naturally sit next to my friend and look around. It is clear a lot of people are gay and some people I am unsure. No biggie. We start doing introductions and I am about the 10th person in and I am noticing a trend that is scaring the living shit out of me. Mind you.. I am never uncomfortable around gay people so I was unsure of where this feeling was coming from. So, it finally gets to me and I am freaking out inside.. this is sooo awkward what am I going to say! I put a smile on my face and said “Hi, my name is Allison. I am a senior ad/pr major and I have been straight for.. forever?” ahhh I did it. I followed the trend. I am the first non-gay. Will I be accepted? Will they throw their pencils at me? Will they look at me weird? .. apparently my face portrayed all of these emotions because everyone just started laughing at me in an approval way.. not a judgmental way. More people introduce themselves and I start hearing new terms like bisexual, queer, trans, and I don’t know what I am. In my head I am thinking.. what is queer? Isn’t that gay? What is trans? Doesn’t that mean you have had a sex change? And how do you not know? OMG I am sooo confused and it is only 30 minutes into the first class.

The discussion progresses to explanation of these terms. I was happy because I thought, “oh good maybe I will understand.” HAHA what a joke that was.. it just confused me even more. Everyone starts throwing out these terms like bi, trans, gay, lesbian, queer, omni sexual, pan sexual, cis male, cis female, and a few others I cannot even remember.  My friend just looked at me and said “don’t worry about it, I promise you will get it. This is just going to take time.” I take all sorts of ethics and theory classes all the time.. but for some reason this class is challenging me more than those ever did. I want to understand so bad, and I hate when I don’t understand things. This class is going to be quite the adventure.. and I am excited for it.

I will keep you all updated on my confusion and my progression to understanding the world of gender identity.. because as I am learning there is more than jus boys and girls in the world.