My College Experience with the Great American Sin: Intersectionality


By Mikayla Lee / Staff Writer

I was born black. I was born Spanish. I was born female. About fifteen years later, I would go on to discover that I was also born a lesbian. Thus, a minority poster child was created. Not only am I biracial and gay, but I am also somewhat androgynous, meaning I do not present myself as particularly feminine or masculine. While I do identify myself as female, my decision to wear men’s clothing seems to upset quite a number of people. Growing up, I struggled with a lot of the same insecurities that other racial minorities struggle with. I wanted straighter hair and paler skin. My adversities with my sexuality were also common. Yet, the rest of the world evolved just as I did. I faced the same everyday systemic discrimination that most minorities deal with, but there was rarely any intentional harm done. That is, until I got to college.

Where I was raised and where I attend college today are two entirely different environments. I attended one of the most diverse high schools in the state of Maryland, and was submerged in urban culture for most of my childhood. I am currently enrolled at a small, Catholic, liberal arts institution in western Maryland, where there is nothing but farmland and white people. Given the conservative nature of the school, not many people are comfortable with me.

On campus, I stick out like a sore thumb, and when any issue surrounding race or sexuality is raised, every head in the room turns to me for answers. People act entirely too surprised when I say that I graduated high school early or that I maintain a 4.5 GPA. I can see people waiting for me to prove my knowledge every time I open my mouth in the classroom. I had my roommate tell me she didn’t want me speaking to my girlfriend on the phone in the room because it made her uncomfortable. I’ve had people ask me why I don’t just cut my hair off, as if being gay somehow inherently gives me the desire to be bald. For a group of people that are supposed to be educated, college students are extremely idiotic. I constantly have people asking me “what are you?” which is the most infuriating question in the world. I am irritated, that’s what I am.

Initially, I stopped opening my mouth and let my shyness get the best of me. I fell silent and tried my best to blend into the background. I was depressed, and did not want to be on campus or speak to anyone. I suppressed all of my opinions into my writing, but I never said anything out loud. After a while, however, I got fed up. People still make ignorant comments. People still make stupid faces. People are still closed-minded, and they always will be. I’m now able to understand that, despite the fact that I cannot change people and their poor opinions of me, I can choose what I will and will not acknowledge. Anyone who is willing to ask me if my hair is real or call me a “dirty dyke” clearly isn’t worth my respect or my stress. Yes, there will always be times when I have to tell someone to watch their mouth or explain that I actually can have long, pretty hair and wear men’s clothes at the same time, but simply knowing that I will never be as ignorant as the person I’m speaking to is enough for me.

There is no need to let the opinions of uninformed, closed-minded individuals cause you pain. If they wish to make rude comments rooted in sheer ignorance, let them, because it is nothing but laughable. Their judgements are completely null unless you give them the power to impact you. Realize how to keep the company you deserve. Minorities are strong, minorities are beautiful, minorities are worthwhile. If someone does not realize that, then they do not deserve your attention.


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