It came to my attention earlier this year, simply by mistake, that the LGBTQIA+ community is not protected by hate crime laws in the state of Idaho. I have lived in Idaho as long as I have been out of the closet, since 2015. Same-sex relationships have been legal in Idaho, but same-sex marriage has not, until the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize Gay Marriage under federal law, nationally in 2015. I honestly believe that if same-sex marriage had not been legalized nationally, that it would still be illegal today in the state of Idaho.
So I have to be honest. I have a severe addiction to Instagram. It’s bad. I check Instagram at night before I go to bed, during my walk between classes, while I put on eyeliner before work, when my mom is talking to me about finances — the list literally never ends.
While trying to calculate exactly how many hours a day I spend in Instagram’s clutches, I stumbled upon a picture that almost made me cry. (Sad, right?) Kehlani, a pop singer and dancer, posted a picture with her girlfriend.
Wait a second. Girlfriend?! I had to blink a couple of times. Okay woah, I had no idea Kehlani was bisexual. I had been listening to her music for the last five years and didn’t know she was just like me. An openly queer woman, unafraid to show her love on a public platform.
I got curious. How many musicians we listen to on the radio everyday are bisexual? How many live openly and are unafraid to share their stories with the world’s eyes on them?
America has seen firsthand the creation of discriminatory policies in its history, but it has also seen these policies be overturned in favor of equality. To this day, people are working hard to have their voice heard and represented in American society. But it takes a special person to destroy a prejudiced institution, armed with nothing but their own bravery.
Luckily for UI students, we have the opportunity to meet and hear from one of these special people: Major Margaret Witt – an activist, an author, a wife, and a woman who made way for LGBTQIA+ people to serve openly in the military.
Maj. Witt had an exemplary career with the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves until she was discharged in 2007 under the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The policy prohibited known gays and lesbians from serving in the U.S. military and expulsed more than 13,000 gay servicemen and women already enlisted.
Edith “Edie” Windsor, an American LGBT rights activist, died last week at age 88 in the arms of her wife. A wife she wouldn’t have been able to call her own without the recent approval of same-sex marriage.
In fact, Edie herself was one of the many heroes that paved the way for marriage equality in the US.
Although I support my fellow womxn who see marriage as a controlled institution, the right to get married is extremely important to me. For the longest time LGBT people like myself could not spend their lives with the person they loved. I treasure the passion and determination of the brothers and sisters who came before me who fought to give me the same rights as every other American. For this, Edie Windsor is my hero.
I’ve lived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho my entire life. I was born in the big blue hospital in the middle of town and spent a lot of time in the big blue Coeur d’Alene Lake. Although I’m not much of an outdoor-sports person, the lake is a big piece of me. Throughout my time growing up, it’s the only thing that has remained constant. No matter where my life takes me, I know I can always return to Coeur d’Alene Lake. It will always be there to greet me.
Every part of our lives is stereotyped and put into boxes – our class, our education, our gender, our sexuality, and our love. This is frustrating and wrong because love should be the most free, open, and genuine part of life. Instead, it is limited by strict normalized gender roles and heteronormativity. These place implied expectations and create assumptions based on one’s role as the man or the woman in the relationship. Because of this, the possibilities of what love can be are limited. Openness, comfort, and self-love on the individual level also create these characteristics in a relationship. However, these traits are stifled by what is considered “normal” and people’s attempts to conform to it. There is potential to expand the possibilities of how people love through looking at the queer community and through a vision of a post-heterosexual world. I acknowledge that this is a very broad topic. I am only going to do a brief survey of how I think queerness could help us move beyond the boundaries and institutions in place today, but I am aware of the infiniteness of this topic.
Last week I had the privilege to meet with Madeline Scyphers, an activist for the queer community. I had a lot of questions about her community, and Madeline had a lot of answers. I started out by asking Madeline what her identities are so I could get an idea of where she is coming from. She has many, and her response was, “I identify as trans. I identify somewhere between a transwoman and someone who identifies as nonbinary transfeminine. What that means to me is I do feel like the binary gender system of being a man or a woman does not necessarily fit me as a descriptor all the time. I never identify as someone who is a man or a boy, and I really hate it when someone does gender me that way.”
That’s just one aspect of her identity. When I asked her about her sexual orientation, she responded, “The best word I use is queer. I do and have always primarily dated women, but I’m attracted to most people, at least some of the time, but not all people all of the time. Bi and pan don’t really encompass that; only if you explain it to someone. Since I have to explain it to someone anyways, because it’s [the terms bi and pan] implying things that I don’t want it to imply, why don’t you just use the term queer, which is purposefully vague? I can use it, and you don’t make assumptions about what it means.” There’s more to Madeline than her sexual orientation and gender identity. Madeline said, “I also identify as an activist, I am a math student, and that’s really important to me, and it plays into a larger identity of feeling like kind of a nerd.” Continue reading “A Discussion of Language and Inclusion with Activist Madeline Scyphers”→