Students engaged in a discussion about stereotypes surrounding LGBTQ relationships on Wednesday as part of Northwestern’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The event, titled “Strap-Ons, Role Play and Open Relationships: Negotiating Boundaries & Confronting Myths about Sex,” was facilitated by Laura Anne Stuart, a coordinator at the Center for Awareness, Response, and Education (CARE).
Stuart had audience members stand in concentric circles for an interactive exercise in which they shared how they learned what it means to be “straight” or “queer,” and how that has impacted their lives.
The attendees then discussed how others determine a person’s sexual orientation by defining specific cultural rules and how these rules police certain behaviors and identities.
“To some extent, it involves being part of a community, whether entry to that community is policed and whether certain people are allowed to say they are part of the community,” Stuart said.
Communications junior Rashaad Spence said it was nice to hear a consensus regarding these cultural guidelines.
“Everyone has felt at some point that they were an impostor, and that is really important to tackle and discuss,” Spence said.
Stuart explained that the media was a problematic medium for learning about LGBTQ relationships.
“We see very specific versions on queer in the media,” Spence explained. “Media can help you discover your queerness. But the media is limited and there is a very clear image of the gay man. It is starting to get diverse but still has a long way to go.”
Student attendees brainstormed a range of stereotypes, including promiscuity, binary preferences, and ‘knowing from a young age.’
“I’ve talked to people whom that kept them from coming out,” Stuart said. “People think that they aren’t allowed to refuse or claim identity of being a gay man or a lesbian, unless you claim particular types of sex.”
Stuart explained that what is most important is “realizing that you can be whatever and it’s all good.”
Featured picture by Sigmaration.