By Stephanie Smith
Editors’ Note: The names of all panelists have been removed from the online version of this story out of respect for their privacy on the World Wide Web.Human sexuality can be a taboo subject, but that certainly wasn’t the case Thursday evening in Kennamer Room in the Powell building. A sexuality awareness panel, composed of 13 people who represented every part of the sexuality spectrum, took turns sharing their own personal stories as a way to inform others who might have questions.
The panel members addressed everything from what their personal sexuality is to how their sexuality has affected their lives and those around them.
A panelist who described herself as asexual, said she has no desire to have sex and feels no real sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of gender.
When one audience member asked her if she ever felt aroused by anything, she replied, “Some Michael Jackson videos.”
The panel came to Eastern as part of a student activism project through Women and Gender Studies professor Marta Miranda’s “Intro to Women and Gender Studies” class. Students sought to bring together people of a wide variety of sexual orientations-everything from straight men and women to those whose sexual preferences are in flux.
Two panelists said they are transsexuals, which is defined as a person whose gender identity is different from his or her anatomical gender. One panelist said he was currently undergoing testosterone therapy several times a week because although he was born a woman, he’s always felt like a man.
Another panelist, who also identifies as a transsexual, related a similar story. Although she was born as a male, she said she felt she had been living in the wrong body her whole life. She now chooses to live every day as a woman and said she hopes to get an operation to complete her transformation to a female body in the future, when she can afford it.
The audience inquired, how does this affect her sexual preference?
“I’m pansexual,” the aforementioned panelist said. “I’m open to all. You could say I’m gender blind.”
Another member of the panel agreed. “Sexuality is very fluid,” she said, adding that she identifies as “queer” because, while she has no desire to be with a man anytime soon, she said she doesn’t know if that will ever change. “Don’t feel pressured to label yourself,” she said.
A panelist who identified himself as a bisexual man, said that it made no sense to him at a very young age as to why the relationship institution had to be a boy and a girl and that he had a very difficult time being accepted because bisexuality is seen mainly as a “girl” thing.
“It’s not something I choose,” he said. “I’ve been bi all my life.”
Another panelist said he’s known he’s gay his whole life, but said his feelings became clearer after finding himself particularly attracted to the character Atreyu from the movie The Neverending Story. He said he had an incredibly difficult time telling his parents.
“They sent me to Christian reform school the first time I told them, and a Christian family counselor the second,” he said.
All of the panelists said in some form or another, their lives had been largely affected by their sexuality. Many had horror stories of beatings and teasing, while others related problems within their faith or family.
“My family didn’t really have a religion until I came out,” one panelist said, “then they were all born-again Christians.