We’re Simon and Sameer, the co-presidents of CPS’s Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club. This is the first edition (of many, hopefully!) of our queer advice column. Check Campus News to submit future questions!
How can you tell if your crush likes your gender? What is a good and respectful way to find out?
One way is to just tell them you like them and see their response. Or, you could ask them how they identify, but make sure to give them room to not answer if they aren’t comfortable. But definitely ask them directly, as opposed to trying to find out from other people.
I don’t understand the pronoun situation; I have been asked what pronouns I prefer a lot lately. Why do some people prefer non-gendered pronouns?
Simon: Some people feel that they identify with multiple genders, have no gender, or that their gender falls outside the traditional binary of male and female. Gender-neutral pronouns allow these people to exist as themselves without feeling forced into a “gender box.” We ask people what pronouns they prefer to normalize the idea that you can’t always tell how someone identifies just by looking at them.
Sameer: As someone who uses both he/him and they/them, I feel like by using gender-neutral pronouns, people don’t expect you to act like their idea of a certain gender. Also, non-binary people often feel uncomfortable when addressed with gendered pronouns.
Am I gay?
Simon: That’s for you to figure out, but it’s always okay to experiment with different labels until you find one that works for you.
Sameer: I mean, if you’re asking this question, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not straight. But seriously, if you want to try and figure it out, you can seek online resources, talk to Sara LC, come to GSA and hear queer experiences, or just take your time to think about yourself and who you’re attracted to.
What do you do if your parents made it very clear they don’t approve of your sexuality?
Simon: If the issue is that they don’t understand the words you use to describe yourself, you might see this as a chance to educate them and help them to better understand you and your community. However, if you think coming out would put you in a situation that is physically or emotionally unsafe, definitely don’t put yourself in danger. If you ever want to talk to someone about your situation or identity but aren’t sure where to go, Sara LC can be a great listener.
Sameer: If you’re already out and they don’t approve, I think that maybe sending them resources or articles about LGBTQ+ people, identities, and news could help them slowly come to terms with your identity. Even for really loving parents, it can take a while to accept what they see as a big change, which is totally normal. During this process, remind them that you really care about them, but you want them to take the time to learn with you about this part of who you are.
Any good queer related puns?
Sameer: Simon came up with the title “Queeries,” so I’d say his puns are pretty ace.
Simon: Sorry if Sameer’s response doesn’t really answer your question… it’s hard for them to give a straight answer.
What does the Q in LGBTQIA+ really stand for?
It stands for both queer and questioning. Queer is an umbrella term for the community and also an identity for some people (like Sameer!). Questioning means you’re unsure how you identify or are still in the process of exploration. Like always, make sure to use the labels people want you to use for them.
How do you come out as questioning?
I don’t know anyone who has formally come out as questioning, but just like any other identity I think there are two main ways to go about it: you can formally say, “I want you to know that I am questioning my sexuality”, or you can casually drop these kinds of comments into ordinary conversation (eg. “I don’t know what my sexuality is but I think he’s good-looking.”).
are AlliGAYtors are the better crocodile?
How did your coming out experiences go?
Sameer: Mine was very much based in my South Asian culture and the stereotypes and misconceptions about queer people that my community holds. My family had lots of problematic and inappropriate questions, but they came around pretty quickly after I helped them find additional resources addressing their concerns. My extended family and Fremont community needed a little bit more educating, but so far, I haven’t had anyone say anything worse than an invasive question or strange misconception to my face.
Simon: I’m not very good at talking to people face-to-face, especially about my feelings. So, I have mostly come out over text message to people I felt comfortable telling outright and let everyone else figure it out on their own. My parents sort of found out by accident, so they definitely seemed a bit shocked at first and were among the people who took the longest to get used to it. But, overall, people have been very supportive so far.
How should I respond if my friend comes out to me? (I know to be supportive, but what do they really need from me?)
Simon: Coming out is really scary, and if they’re coming out to you it means they really trust you. So, let them know you appreciate that they shared their identity with you. Maybe give them a hug (or high five, or supportive dab, etc.). Then, if your friend is okay answering a few questions, it’s a good idea to ask who else knows so that you don’t out them. Finally, you can always just ask them what they want you to do support them.
Sameer: I think the tone also has an impact on how you should respond. If they come out to you in passing, or in a group conversation, there’s no need to make a big deal out of it. But if it’s something they sit you down for or say it’s important for you to know, it probably warrants the questions Simon described.
What are some common micro-aggressions towards LGBTQ+ people and how can we avoid them?
Sameer: Saying “Isn’t everyone a little gay?” implies that their identity isn’t important to you. On the other hand, immediately listing other queer people you know makes it seem like you think all we are is our sexuality.
Simon: I think erasure of queer identities is one of the most common ones. The classic example is assuming everyone to be straight, but it’s not the only one. For example, when people say “ladies and gentlemen” it can feel awkward if you’re nonbinary and not a lady or gentleman. Similarly, when people make comments about how sexual desire is innate to human nature, it can feel like they don’t see asexual people as human beings.
Do I have to be gay to go to GSA? Do any people who are not gay go to GSA?
You definitely don’t have to be gay. Allies are 100% welcome and greatly appreciated! And yes, we currently do have allies at GSA.
Is he gay, or European?
If memory serves… he’s gay AND European.
What to expect at Pride, both good and bad?
San Francisco Pride is a massive parade from the Embarcadero up Market Street, ending in a street fair in front of City Hall. You’ll get to see (and hear) some really elaborate floats and meet other people who have come to express themselves, but be wary of people who are either intoxicated, naked, or both.
Oakland Pride is also a parade and street fair, but it’s much smaller and more community oriented. It’s not quite as exciting or dramatic as the one in SF and won’t take up as much of your day, but it’s also less crowded, less sexualized and has better food (in Simon’s opinion).
Both of us like to go to both for different experiences.
Is it possible to wear too much rainbow?