By Susan K. Thomas
© 2013 Diversity Rules Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.

thomasSusan K. Thomas is a lecturer in English at the University of Kansas where she spreads the good gay word through LGBT literature and first year composition courses. She is currently researching the impact of HIV/AIDS on the LGBT community in Kansas. She has two cats, Hannah and Hamlet (Ham). 

Q. I live in a relatively small community. In the past 7 months, I have hooked up with 6 guys (and by hooked up, I mean kissing and fondling. I haven’t had actual sex since last summer when I was seriously dating somebody). Well, now I’m being called a slut by a lot of people. I’m 22, and I want to have fun, but this is really bothering me. What can I do? Jordan

The subject of slut shaming sets me off every time. I mean, being labeled a whore or slut is nothing new; it happens in all communities. However, it has become much more rampant in the gay community in recent years thanks to a certain organization that I won’t name (but they distribute these blue stickers with two yellow lines across them…). This group has been selling the idea that the LGBTQAI community is just like the heterosexual community…we are “normal.” Yes, in many ways we are just like everyone else, but in many ways, we aren’t. The result has been the heteronormalizing of the gay community. While I support marriage equality, I know that it is not for everyone. There are many in our community who long for the traditions that they’ve grown up with, and that is fine. However, many gays and lesbians are now rejecting those within the community who don’t abide by this goal. So, if a young gay man or a lesbian woman likes to go out and have fun, hook up, etc., he or she may be slut shamed by those within the community (it also occurs in the rejection of fetish subcultures, but that’s a different column).

So, the first question might be why these people are talking, while the second is why do you care? If these people are your friends, then perhaps they are jealous that they’re not out having as much fun as you. And if they are your friends and gossiping about you, perhaps they’re really not your friends. If they are concerned about you and your choices (whether or not you’re being safe, drinking heavily, etc.), I would like to think that they would have the guts to speak with you about it. Or, you could casually bring up the subject with them and reassure them that you are in control (limiting alcohol/drugs, using condoms, etc.).

You need to consider why you are bothered about people gossiping about you, whether you know the people or not. Perhaps you feel as though you’re doing something wrong. It is completely normal to explore your sexuality. You are the person in control of your life. You can either adopt a dozen cats, stay home, and learn to knit on a Saturday night (Oh wait! That’s my life!), or you can grow a thicker skin so that you feel completely comfortable going out and pursuing your interests.

And finally, of course, as a Mama to lots of gaybies, I always promote being safe in whatever you do, whether partying, engaging in sex, or whatever. Be safe. Keep your senses about you so that you don’t find yourself crossing a line that you’d rather not cross. Good luck, and let me know how things go!

“Inqueeries” is an interactive column.  Readers are encouraged to submit questions for Susan to answer!

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