Hello Blogosphere! My name is Isaiah Frisbie and I am honored to be the writer for Pride and Prejudice. As a freshman myself, I came to Brown with a number of questions, many of which were answered within a matter of weeks while others remain open-ended. Perhaps one of the more enduring questions, one that may continue to be answered throughout the entirety of my Brown career, is how my own sexuality will affect my college experience. So, I have taken it upon myself to use this blog to contribute any kind of insight that I can about LGBTQ life at Brown and hopefully, in some way, help any student, prospective or otherwise, put some of those nagging worries to rest.
It was six days before I had to leave for Rhode Island. I went to visit my theater director to whom I had grown very close. He proceeded to tell me, as one of his many insights, that I should start getting used to the word wicked. Of course I was confused, as the only context in which I had ever used the word was in reference to one of my favorite Broadway productions. Apparently, the word wicked is big thing in Rhode Island and I’ve begun to see that my director was actually on to something. I had never really considered the fact that some of the things I say on a daily basis might actually be colloquialisms upon my arrival to Brown. I had hardly ever left California, let alone my own city. So, to think that, in some way, I might actually be culturally distinct was such a strange concept. What did my Southern Californian heritage really have to offer to a major city on the opposite side of the country?
Well, trust me. The distinctions are there and I was more surprised than anyone when I actually had to explain something that was just another commonality in my experience.
Rhode Island has wicked. We have In-n-Out. (Perhaps one of the best, if not the outright best, burger joint on the West Coast.) Providence has “Bubble Tea” whereas the West Coast equivalent was simply referred to as “Boba.”
It is also important to note that the language at Brown in particular, especially with LGBTQ related matters, was something I had to get used to as well. In fact, it’s something I’m still getting used to. Between conferences and just everyday conversation, I’ve noticed that some of the terminology used here in reference to sexuality varies quite significantly from anything I was ever accustomed to saying.
When people asked me about my sexuality, I had my usual answer. I’m gay. Now, I find myself more inclined to say that I identify as gay. When I was in high school, the term queer was rarely used and when it was, it was an insult. At Brown, the word is actually used quite frequently. However, instead of it being some kind of derogatory remark, queer is typically used as an umbrella term for a number of sexual identities, such as gay or lesbian.
In no way am I insinuating that such distinctions in terminology are bad or should be avoided. It’s quite the opposite really. It’s so fascinating to see and learn so many different ways of handling and addressing sexuality. It’s merely something to get accustomed to. I’m sure there will come a point in my life when I start saying “I wickedly identify as queer.” You know what? That’s fine! At the moment however, I don’t necessarily address sexuality in such a way and that’s fine too. There is no stigma on addressing yourself or matters of sexuality in a slightly different way than everyone else. (Of course, this is already considering that such variations aren’t meant to be discriminatory or derogatory.) If I would prefer to say “I am” rather than “I identify as,” I, just as everyone else, am in an environment where I have the ability and luxury to do so.
Yes, it’s still strange to hear the word queer being thrown around so freely. Yes, sometimes I catch myself saying “I am” and begin to say “I identify” and vice-versa. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no pressure or expectation to suddenly adopt a new language. As many of you might find yourselves experiencing upon arrival, I’m in a transition where I’m learning what I’m comfortable saying. If there’s anything you should take away from this, just know it’s simply a matter of preference.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about what I should post next, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.