We Live In A Straight World – By Edward A. Palmer

I was assigned to cover the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference; (MBLGTACC). Having never heard of such a gathering, especially one with an excessively long title, I was completely unaware of what my day had in store. I arrived with no preconceived notions; I was a clean slate, open for any sort of knowledge that was going to be thrown my way. With this conference I found that there is so much more that I need to learn not only about my community, but most importantly, myself. 

     It was held at Indiana University, bringing gay folks from all around the Midwest. Chicago and Indianapolis seemed to be that largest represented cites. Gays and lesbians, who had traveled hundreds of miles, from the smallest of towns, simply wanted a sense of solidarity. They wanted to know they weren’t alone. Loneliness and isolation is something that plagues us as a people. I thought my generation had somehow eradicated that, apparently I’ve been incredibly naïve. 

     The workshops were an important part of the weekend; they ranged from global activism to learning how to relate to other gay people. Everyone that I spoke with said networking was the most important concept. We as gay people still don’t know how to deal with one another. We’re not taught about our sexuality, it’s always been learned through trial an error. Most of these young college students were oblivious to the idea of what it means to be gay. These workshops hopefully fill the gaps. Mandy Greene, a sophomore from Wisconsin, said that straight people can turn on any television show and learn how the sexes relate.

This struck me as incredibly funny and sad; we travel hundreds of miles just to learn how to speak to one another.
     To take the edge off, there was entertainment. A hilarious drag quartet named “The Kinsey Sicks” were present. There were also stand up comedians such as Marga Gomez and Jason Stuart. Creator of The L Word: , Rose Troche was a keynote speaker, and vital part of the conference. The Valentine’s Day dance was aptly named The Black and White Affair. Although it was nice too see people take control of their lives, it was refreshing to have fun and enjoy the unity. Surprisingly people from South Dakota can dance.  


  My final destination was the Kinsey Institute . For those of you who have been under a rock, Alfred Kinsey did ground breaking work with sexuality in the 1940’s, resulting in the controversial publication, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male”. He invented what is known as the Kinsey scale. 0 is deemed completely heterosexual, while 6 is considered completely homosexual. Most human beings are somewhere in the middle.   

     My amazing tour guide Garry Milius showed me the pre- stonewall exhibit. Seeing the art showed me how far we have come. When this art was being created it was a crime to be gay. You could be incarcerated on suspicion, which lead to police being paid off. We were forced to become an “underground scene”.  This “art” became the manifestation of our revolution.

     The photographs, paintings and sculptures were so raw. Large erect penises seemed to be the favorite muse of those days. Kinsey made it clear that when something is made taboo it can become a fetish. As a lover of old photography this was turning out to be my favorite event of the day. 

     With all this diverse information I was wondering how I was going to present this. Honestly I was scared. On the ride home with my favorite photographer, we discussed the whole event and how it probably meant so many different things to many different people. The one thing we could agree upon is that equality has always been a struggle in America. Although there is an incredibly sad history and a dismal present, we as a people are resilient, like every other minority, we will survive.       
     With this wonderful event, it’s been proven that we are poets, actors, writers, soldiers, activist; we are everything you can put your mind to. We now have to learn from our history to know where we are going. Never forget those who have gotten us to where we are today. Have successful relationships, families and even children. Things change slowly, but they always change. Conferences are a need even in these times, not only for the knowledge and solidarity, but because we live in a straight world.
Edward Palmer     palmer5716 (at)  sbcglobal.net