“You said a friend of yours is gay and that she is the president of a college.”
“Yes, she is,” I said.
“But how can she be gay?”
I was surprised at this student’s attitude- generally they’re more open-minded. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“If she is a female, how can she be gay?” he persisted.
Got it. “Gay refers to anyone who romantically likes someone of the same gender. So females can be ‘gay’ and males can be ‘gay’. The term used more often with gay females is lesbian.”
“Oh, Ok. What is homosexual then?”
“It is a more clinical or categorical word for gay. Homo means same. So, a homosexual is someone who likes someone of the same sex.”
Another hand goes up, “I thought homo meant human being. Like homo sapien?”
“You are right, it does. Homo sapien means ‘wise man’. How interesting.”
A hand goes up (student ‘A’), “Why are homosexuals always at hair salons?”
Another student (student ‘B’) asserts, “They are not homosexuals!”
‘A’ says, “Yeah they are. They are always talking about hair and nails with all their lady clients.”
‘B’ responds, “They are not homosexuals, they are metrosexuals.”
‘A’ looks so confused, along with most of the class. This is so interesting.
I offer, “You are both bringing up great points. Male homosexuals on TV and in movies are often portrayed as flamboyant and expressive with overtly feminine gestures and mannerisms. This is not a norm - it is a stereotype.”
A hand goes up, “That can be damaging. We are talking about stereotyping in another class.” He looks thrilled at the inter-curricular connection. Love it when that happens.
Continuing, “Metrosexual is a relatively new word referring to males who are more metropolitan per se. They are comfortable shopping, getting their hands manicured and their hair and skin cared for in a salon, for example. I think you were talking about two different words in the same location: homosexual- the stereotype of who might work at the spa and metrosexuals- who might make appointments at the spa.”
A hand is up, “Well, what is a heterosexual?”
“Oh, good question,” I explain, “Heterosexual refers to people of the opposite gender who like each other, like a woman and a man, girl and boy, or your mom and dad.”
Another hand, “What does straight mean? Because it sounds like it should be same- not different, but I think that isn’t right.”
“Glad you asked. Straight does sound like it could mean ‘the same’, like homo. Actually, it means heterosexual- different, male and female, mainstream, straight ahead – not different from the majority. My-oh-my all these terms get confusing.”
Another hand goes up,” What is bi-sexual?”