By MARLA NEWSOM
Being apart of a community is a comforting feeling, whether you have similar interests in sports, hobbies, television shows, or something even more personal like sexuality. The LGBTQIA+ community is definitely one of the larger and more accepting groups, but sometimes there are still certain people who feel left out. Those people are frequently the B part of LGBTQIA+. For those of you who don’t know, LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, and asexual. The (+) at the end is there to represent the sexualities not spoken for.
Most people understand the meaning of gay and lesbian, but as for the other sexualities, not so much. Bisexuality has always been a term that people are not fully comfortable with. Being bisexual means that you have interest in both men and women, and while it seems like a simple definition, there are people who don’t want to accept that bisexuality is a real sexuality.
There have always been remarks made about bisexuals. People are quick to say they are greedy, indecisive, or confused. For bisexual men, the common misconception is that they’re gay, but they don’t want to accept it; while for bisexual women, people assume they’re straight, but just want to experiment. This stereotype has always lingered outside and inside the LGBTQIA+ community. An anonymous student and member of the LGBTQIA+ community says, “I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about my sexuality or anything and I had to be careful with what I did and what I said.” When asked about bisexuality he says, “It seems like you have to be gay or straight. No shade of gray. No in between.”
Growing up, I found comfort in television shows I watched, because around the time I was accepting my sexuality, there were a couple shows introducing gay or lesbian characters. The same can’t be said about bisexual characters. For some reason, the idea of a character being bisexual has been a joke on television. In October of 2015, GLAAD released its annual “Where We Are on TV” report. The article stated, “Bisexual representation was up for both broadcast and cable television this year; however, GLAAD found that many of those depictions still reinforce harmful stereotypes about bisexual people.” Although the percentage has gone up, the characters still aren’t receiving the correct representation. Sarah Kate, the CEO and President of GLAAD says, “It is not enough to just include LGBT characters; those characters need to be portrayed with thought and care to accurately represent an often tokenized community.”
Cumberland County College has a large LGBTQIA+ community, as well. Maggie Simek, a CCC student apart of the LGBTQIA+ community and past President of the GLOW Club is sad to see the club come to an end, but is happy about the way it shaped her CCC career. Simek says, “As the college itself goes, it is welcoming to the community. I haven’t heard many complaints and actually last summer they had begun the process of rewriting the diversity statement to be LGBT inclusive among other things. I’ve personally never experienced any prejudiced by college employees.” She says she has heard her fair share of ignorant slurs, but personally has never had any bad experiences with students on campus. With that being said, Simek says, “I’m thankful for all the connections I made with the community here regardless of how much being queer had to do with it. I feel the community is a little scattered, but it is what it is. I just hope future LGBTQIA+ students can find support with each other in the coming years.”
I am lucky to say I have never felt unwelcomed or unsafe attending CCC, but I am sure there are others on campuses around the world who can’t say the same. Sexuality is not what defines us, but is what makes us human. Lets say “bye” to stereotypes and “hello” to acceptance.