A black curtain divided the crowd from the unknown at GLBTQ Leadership Council’s Guess Who’s Gay panel on Thursday, October 9. Quiet murmurs filled an apprehensive room, as the crowd slowly shuffled into the impersonal vastness of Cushing 001, and a slight nervous tension could be felt throughout the aisles. The panel began, the first tentative question was asked and, gradually, the tension dissipated - replaced by a comfortable solidarity. National Coming Out Week has arrived at Boston College.
National Coming Out Week, NCOW, is a week-long celebration of those who publicly identify as GLBTQ. It is a week of respect, acceptance, pride, solidarity and learning, as the historically taboo topic of non-heterosexuality enters the spotlight. NCOW is a time for Boston College to open the discourse on sexuality--to attempt to understand and respect the situations of each individual who chooses to face life as a gender-sexual minority.
At the Guess Who’s Gay panel, six mysterious contestants sat behind a curtain and answered questions asked by the crowd. By the end, the crowd was expected to guess the sexualities of each contestant. Few hands raised in the beginning, and the temperature of the crowd remained tepid through the early, hesitant questions. However, as the questions became sillier, the mood warmed up, the crowd eased into the event and, eventually, an atmosphere of acceptance and comfort enveloped the room.
The usual unease surrounding the topics of sexuality and gender was absent. What replaced it was a sensation of strong support. The curtains no longer felt divisive, the lecture hall no longer seemed so large and the contestants behind the curtain no longer appeared mysterious. Everyone in the hall felt interconnected, and the sense of solidarity eliminated the dichotomous understanding of sexuality in which the crowd was expected to think. Everyone was united, regardless of sexuality, laughing and chatting.
As the questions came to a close, people guessed, the contestants were revealed and the room exploded in applause. Individually, each contestant came out as straight, gay or bisexual and, upon each reveal, the crowd unanimously cheered. Not one person guessed each contestant’s sexuality correctly, and the initial question, “Who here thinks they have a good gaydar?” was proven rhetorical.
The night ended on a high, yet introspective note. The event revealed that sexuality is not a defining aspect of people’s characteristics, personalities or interests. Not all GLBTQ people are the same, just as not all heterosexual people are the same. The stereotypical view of homosexuality that society promulgates is highly inaccurate, and people’s sexuality cannot be categorized based on criteria. Love is love, the GLC proposed, and everybody is different--united as people.
Guess Who’s Gay was a light-hearted way to open BC’s dialogue on sexuality, and National Coming Out Week, as a whole, sparked greater discussion in the BC community. The week concludes with a closing ceremony on October 10 in the Vandy Cabaret Room.