“Sex/Gender/Sexuality Outlaw” - the Rainbow Hangout at Diffendorfer Memorial Hall

Chico Masak
Undergraduate student, ICU
A Homosexual Asian Male Bitch From CA/NZ/JP

【The article below is the same as the article that appears in the tenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.】

Rainbow sandwich board of Sei OutlawWhen I was a high school student in Japan, I was a closeted gay. I don’t think I even had that word - gay - to identify myself as. I knew the word “homo” and only revealed my sexuality in online forums. I had no idea how my friends and parents would respond if I came out because I had never seen anyone come out. I was comfortable with my sexuality but it was not until I left the country that I could tell my mother and my best friend that I was sexually/romantically attracted to men rather than women. I sometimes wonder, if I had not moved to New Zealand at the age of seventeen, would I have ever been able to come out? In a high school in Japan? I don’t think so.

Most new students at ICU have just graduated from high school. Some are straight, others queer. In other words, they are coming from various sexual backgrounds and sexual herstories and/or histories. Everybody is different. But sadly, there are “good” and “bad” ways of being different and being categorized as the latter puts you in the closet. Very few students comfortably come out in junior or senior high school.
But college is different! I wanted to let our new students know that. That’s why I decided to go RAINBOW. The very first week of Spring Term 08 at ICU began with two beautifully (or a little too flashily :p) decorated rainbow tables in the West Wing of Diffendorfer Memorial Hall. I was joined by my friends, some of whom were affiliated with CGS or Sumposion, an LGBIT student organization at ICU. There was no common activity we all engaged in, but what we did was to hang out at the rainbow tables ? studying, eating, talking.
Every day in the week was better than the previous day with more participation, decoration, and most importantly, support from our fellow students and teachers. Our slogan on the hand-made rainbow sandwich board was “Sei Outlaw”?the Japanese word “sei” means sex, gender, and sexuality, while the “outlaw” part was taken from Kate Bornstein’s book Gender Outlaw. In sum, more than 100 people sat at the rainbow tables in the week. Some asked us what the event was for. Some asked further about LGBIT activism at ICU. More than a few visited CGS later.
“So, there are people like me!” moments are important for young sexual minorities. Studies suggest that the suicide rates of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens in the US and the UK are significantly higher than those of their heterosexual counterparts. It is also suggested that they are more likely to be bullied in high school than heterosexual kids. So the other important thing is “so, there are people like them!” moments for non-LGBT students. I believe that what we did helped to increase awareness at our campus in that respect, too. We, however, did not choose to embrace identity politics by dividing a priori the heterosexual and the queer; rather, our slogan, “Sei Outlaw,” was meant to encourage self-identified heterosexual individuals to question their heterosexuality, ask themselves if their sexuality is really, truly, and wholly “normal” and thus not outlaw (You might prefer words like “normal” and“abnormal” but if you look at the titles of pornographic videos supposedly targeted at“normal” populations, you will get confused between what’s normal and what’s not :p).
So we were happy when one girl came up to us and declared “Oh, maybe I am a Sei Outlaw too!”