Thursday, October 10, 2013

Brown Bag Reflection: Coming Out Stories!

Coming is not limited to the moment you tell a friend, parent, or perhaps even stranger. It seems to be a journey of discovery, re-creation, and/or redefinition.  On Tuesday, C The Colgate Center for women's studies along with LGBTQ initiatives continued the tradition the Coming out stories brown bag. This year we had the opportunity to learn about the "coming out" journey's of James Vigilante, Chantel Melendez, and Rabbi Dena Bodian. Each one offered great and different perspectives on sexuality, labels, and language.
       James Vigilante told the story of how very young he knew he was " different" per se and was attracted to men (gender or phenotypical sex was not clarified). After a rumor in high school started about him participating in sexual activities with men spread, he became the subject of  ridicule. In order to cope and counteract these statements, tried to represent the society's image of masculinity by getting a girlfriend. Although he cared for very much, he knew the relationship could last. He "came out" during his college years when he  felt comfortable and found a very supportive and welcoming community and family in LAMDA and Colgate Dischords. James chose to identify as Gay.
       Chantel Melendez offered a pan-sexual perspective by explaining that her attraction to a person is not determined or based on sex or gender. She explained the difference between Bi-Sexual and Pan-Sexual by saying bi-sexual was attraction to men or women while pan-sexual identified person don't necessarily restrict  to only those two gender identifications. Pan-Sexuals can be attracted to many different genders in between as well. Chantel also brought up a good point by changing the language of "coming out" into "sexual debut" to  not negatively stigmatize the experience  and be inclusive.
          Rabbi Dena Bodian offered the audience a historical perspective by saying things were much different then it is now. Before, same sex couples could not own houses or property together, as well as not get married, or file taxes. Rabbi Dena elaborate don her experience being a lesbian identified Rabbit and how many times people would not let her participate int their church or speak on the basis or her sexual-orientation. Luckily, she has a found a welcoming home in Hamilton.


  1. After attending this brown bag I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I learned. The thing that stood out to me was the acceptance of the 'gay culture' here at Colgate. I know many people, including myself, have many incorrect preconceived misconceptions about the acceptance of homosexuals in fraternities. I was very happy to hear that almost every aspect of Colgate is continually becoming more accepting of its people as a whole and a comfortable place for people to be who they really are.

  2. I really enjoyed this Brown Bag because I felt that it was very enlightening. I specifically enjoyed Chantel's comment about changing the language of "coming out" to be called a "sexual debut." I enjoyed this comment because individuals who identify as anything other than heterosexual are expected to "come out." Everyone should have to announce their sexual identity because it is not fair to assume a sexual identity for anyone or to other-ize other sexualities besides heterosexuality. If I remember correcting, I also believe Chantel described using the term "sexual debut" to describe one's first sexual experience. I enjoyed this phrasing too because the phrase to "lose" one's virginity is problematic.

  3. I was unable to attend the Brown Bag, but I wish I was able to hear these "Coming Out" stories firsthand. I particularly liked Chantel's name change from "coming out" to "sexul debut" eliminating the negative connotations that are often associated with the latter. I, myself, did not know that the difference between bi-sexual and pan-sexual. Unfortunately, I feel as though this knowledge is not openly discussed. While our community has made strides in acceptance, social constructs limit the universal acceptance of a sexuality spectrum. There are individuals that are attracted to many forms of gender, not just male and/or female. I do notice society increasingly embracing homosexuality with welcoming arms, but further education is largely necessary in order for these other forms sexuality to recieve a commonplace in today's society.

  4. I really enjoyed this Brown Bag as well! One of my favorite moments (of many) was during Rabbi Dena's part in which she brought a really good historical aspect to the LGBTQ story. It brought to light some of huge leaps that has been made in society and the LGBTQ community from the blatant outright discrimination and perception around HIV/AIDS. I also think that the change that the LGBTQ community has made on society has also affected the LGBTQ community itself; it seems like more self reflection has been made over time, becoming more inclusive and accepting of identities that may not have normally been seen (e.i. Asexuality). This was a great Brown Bag that touched on many different aspects of "Sexual Debuts" and sexuality as a whole.

  5. It's really great to read that these people were supported by members of the Colgate community when they decided to share their sexual preferences. I went to a high school where at least a third of the population did not identify as heterosexual. In this environment, most people were open minded and supportive of other people's sexual preferences, and if someone was homophobic, they kept their thoughts to themselves. It wasn't cool to say "That's so gay." In fact, people would get judged for using gay as a derogatory term. This kind of environment should not just be unique to my high school. No one should have to feel the need to keep their sexuality a secret and no one should feel forced into faking a heterosexual relationship just ot be accepted by their peers.