Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Things I Learned in English 316

My professor for my technical writing course last semester has ADHD, and he's great. This is a selection of things he's gone off topic about in class (representing about four lectures of tangents):
  • Robert Frost, TS Elliott, and Shakespeare. Specifically, several poems and soliloquies recited from memory, and what they said about death and suicide. "LIFE IS MEANINGLESS!"
  • How to troubleshoot your vintage Volkswagen Bug when it breaks down on your way to ski at Snowbird for $7. "So the damn thing stopped."
  • A class poll was taken to see how many people would be in favor of caffeinated beverages on campus. "I have a 12-pack of Diet Coke in my office."
  • Whether girls are really less shallow than guys, since they don't like to date men who are shorter than them.
  • Why his high school typing teacher was terrible, and how he had to take shorthand from her the next semester.
  • How he got into college without taking the ACT or the GRE.
  • A story about how he got "fired" from piano lessons at the age of 6, and no piano teacher in his town would take him on. "I thought it was great."
  • "This is a book I wrote about the history of prostitution..."
  • An explanation of how he's trying to cut down on swearing, except "damn" and "hell," which are in the Bible.
  • "Donald Trump just needs to grow up and realize he doesn't have any hair."
  • An explanation of how the word "bitching" has become more pejorative today than when he was our age.
  • "This is a picture of my foot in Moab..."
  • Diet Coke has a distinct smell compared to Pepsi, which is crap.
  • A detailed description of which documents he prefers to type and which he prefers to write by hand.
  • How is Keith Richards still alive with all the drugs he uses?
  • He's not afraid of bears, is totally fine with being 20-30 yards from a bear, but flying terrifies him.
  • Different types of old guns and how they work.
  • Different types of trees.
  • Different types of women's hairstyles.
  • Different types of mud.
  • Different types of deer.
  • The cost of parking in Seattle (which is apparently Bernie Sanders' fault).
  • How complicated recycling is (also Bernie Sanders' fault).
  • The merits of Orrin Hatch, who has never changed his mind about anything in his life.
  • How he bought a cherry pitter from a State Fair and couldn't figure out the instructions to assemble it.
  • How carburetors work, and how to maintain them in old cars.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

On "Defining Yourself By Your Sexuality"

So as I've said before, I'm bisexual.

That seems to make some people uncomfortable. Some people think I shouldn't talk about it at all; others think it's okay to talk about it, as long as I don't use the word "bisexual." The most common explanation I've heard for this idea is that calling myself bisexual means I'm defining myself by my sexuality.

I don't really get that. I'm not defining myself by my sexuality; I'm defining my sexuality by using the word in the English language that most accurately describes who I am attracted to. To me, coming up with a euphemism to describe my sexuality is unnecessary, because there's already a word for it — a word which, by the way, is completely neutral. "Bisexual" doesn't tell you anything more about me than "experiences same and opposite gender attraction" does, and it has the advantage of being 34 letters shorter.

Frankly, I don't think it's anyone's business whether I talk about my sexuality, or how much, or why. However, I will say that I feel like it's an important conversation to have. Far too often, especially in an LDS community, conversations about LGBT issues occur when straight, cis people talk to other straight, cis people about this group of "other" people. And while many of these conversations are well-meaning, the fact that they primarily occur among non-LGBT people contributes to a feeling of othering. It's much easier to accidentally say something insensitive about a nameless, faceless group of people than it is to say that thing about someone you know.

For this reason, I felt uncomfortable talking about LGBT issues when people assumed I was straight. I felt like I was perpetuating the problem instead of helping to solve it.

(Plus, I'm not uncomfortable with my sexuality, and having to censor all the pun opportunities it affords me simply because I hadn't said the words "I'm bisexual" to anyone was just really annoying.)

You don't have to agree with or understand why I chose to come out, but at any rate, I'm going to use the word "bisexual" when my sexuality is relevant to something I'm trying to say.  And if you have a problem with that, I just want to make one thing clear:

If you think that after one word, you know anything about how I feel about my sexuality — if you think you know what choices I've made about it — if you think you can make assumptions about the state of my marriage because of it — if you think you know my feelings on Church doctrine or policy — if you think you can make assumptions about my activity in the Church — if you think my sexuality is going to be an issue — if you think I'm being "divisive" somehow — if you feel like you know what role it plays in my life — 

And if any of the things you think after just hearing the word "bisexual" make you so uncomfortable that you feel the need to tell me I shouldn't use that word —

The issue isn't that I'm "defining myself by my sexuality."

The issue is that you are.