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In Honor of Pride Month, our Executive Director Comes Out…Again

This article was first published in The Huffington Post on July 6, 2012.

My “coming out”

To celebrate President Obama’s recent declaration of June as National Pride Month, there was no perfect time to recognize progress in support of LGBTQI + rights at the New York City Pride Parade last month. There, major nonprofits, retailers, and even some religious groups celebrated the expansion of LGBTQI + rights across the United States. And for me, who recently recognized myself as a gay woman, there would have been no better month to experience an event that reminded me of how painful it was to hide my true self. Many years ago.

Only one of the audience remembers me as I agreed to participate in a panel discussion at the Flomenhaft Gallery in New York City about what it was like to be a teenager who hid her sexual orientation in the 1970s. I didn’t know much about being a college student in the 70’s, but my experience in her classroom is that I “come out” in this presentation over 30 years later. Will eventually foresee.

Linda Stein’s exhibition “Fluidity of Gender” is properly surrounded by art exhibitions aimed at removing all forms of gender prejudice through sculpture, and by discussing the voluntary suppression of my sexual identity, I ” Provided the perfect background for “coming out”. A teenager living under the strict control of my parents ended up with two marriages (with a man), two divorces (no surprises there), and two great adults now. It leads to a child (my greatest achievement). However, it seemed only yesterday that he sat in Professor Farley’s classroom as an undergraduate student at Brooklyn College in 1979 and tried to complete the coursework needed to complete a dual major in women’s studies. As the founder of the country’s first university women’s studies program, Dr. Farley teaches the “Reality of the Lesbian Experience” course, a groundbreaking subject aimed at educating students about the lifestyle of gay women throughout history. I was there. When Dr. Farley introduced himself as a gay woman and opened first class, she encouraged each student to voluntarily share something about herself as well. Students who showed the courage to announce that they were gay were particularly keen to finally breathe freely by publicly revealing her sexual orientation and the challenges, obstacles and fears she faced. I remember being there. Lesbians for that 10 years.

But as brave as these students were discussing the lesbian lifestyle in a closed room in the classroom, they felt their freedom was over. Many actually chose to “monitor” the class rather than enroll it, so the course did not appear on college transcripts, potentially discriminating against future graduate enrollment. I was very worried about preventing it. office.

However, my discomfort as a student in this classroom, proudly proclaiming heterosexuality, was not comparable to the higher level of anxiety I felt when I interviewed Professor Farley as a college newspaper reporter in the same semester. I proudly asserted my feminist view, but I was still desperately trying to curb my true sexual orientation. So when I went into Dr. Farley’s office and had an interview, I sat down in a chair that made her feel uncomfortable, and her eyes looked straight, so I suspected that anxiety had reached crescendo. think. To the question in my interview. Did she feel how nervous I was? Did she notice that I’m hiding my true sexuality? Did she know how desperately I wanted to run out of her office and never return? When I tried to plan an escape, these questions swirled quietly in my head and I didn’t want to learn the answer to any of them at all. But now, 33 years later, I finally got the answer. “Are you not that nervous student who interviewed me?” Dr. Farley asked me at the completion of my coming-out speech at an art exhibition a few weeks ago. She laughed “yes” and she was afraid she could feel her true sexual orientation, which I was desperately trying to hide at the time. She said she was unaware of my level of distress during the interview, but she did and remembered more clearly. She apologized for making me feel so uncomfortable, but I told her that these feelings were more based on the need to hide who I was at the time and she had nothing to do with her. I did.

I couldn’t write the article in the college newspaper. I remember it was too difficult to write a pen on paper. I felt forced to tackle issues related to my true sexual orientation. But as I stood proudly behind the barricade watching last month’s Pride Parade, I found it the best time to revisit this experience and finally talk to me. Paper and pens have long been replaced by computers and keyboards, but the importance of being loyal to yourself is more important and liberating than ever. And now I can speak from experience.

What do you think?

Written by Fem Society

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