August 30, 2011

2015ers Leading the Way

Well, if there was ever any question about the role that the class of 2015 would play on campus, let me assure you that they are here and already blazing a trail.

I sort of “came out” in class today (is that what it’s called when you’re questioning and in a complicated place with things?). But I shouldn’t get any credit. Really, the credit should go to the first year student who came out within the first five minutes of class. And who, in doing so, showed me that it could, in fact, be done and that our classroom was safe.

The class, “Race, Gender, and Sexuality” is cross-listed in a bunch of departments. At eight students, it’s a small class. To help us understand the complexity of identities, our professor asked us to share a time when our identities were misinterpreted. One girl talked about being of mixed-ethnicity and therefore being “ethnically ambiguous.” Another student talked about going to a wealthy high school, but actually being from a working class family. Interestingly enough, a few women in my class remembered being cast-type as a lesbian (one is an athlete; the others didn’t dress with a hyper-feminine flare growing up). My gut instinct was to explain how people outside of the LGBT Center/BDU everyone assumed I was straight, and how while in the Center/BDU or other LGBT-spaces people assumed I was a lesbian. As we went around in a circle to share our stories, I debated whether or not I should share that experience. Maybe it would just be easier to explain that being Jewish in a pretty-Christian society left me needing to explain my faith throughout my life (think, especially pre-College). In the end, I opted to share both (many students were sharing a few experiences).

Marianne Williamson once wrote that “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” If not for that 2015 student who shared that he was gay during an earlier part of the class, I would not have even considered sharing my own experience.

Thank you, 2015er, for shining your light and liberating me. Thank you for letting me, the senior, follow your lead.


  1. ahhh! So good! First off, I love that you're in that class-it sounds seriously awesome! And that's so cool that you both (the 2015 and Risa) got to come out in class in such a cool atmosphere. That Marianne Williamson quote is also really spot-on.

    Go both of you!

  2. That's so fantastic! <3 I'm so incredibly happy with how 2015 is looking here too, I've never met more passionate people.

  3. don't discount the importance of being out "when you’re questioning and in a complicated place". i think my whole process of identifying would have been a lot easier if i saw that i didn't have to have it together right away. i have labeled and came out, but sometimes i wish i took a little longer to think about it. i identify as gay, but the reality of it is it's more complicated than that and probably always will be.