So I’m taking this class called “Interracial- Intercultural Communication” and it’s really interesting. Half of the students are here studying abroad from varying Asian countries (mostly China, Japan, & Korea), so I get to talk to people every week that I normally wouldn’t get the chance to- FSU is not very diverse. But today I had what I felt to be the most awkward of experiences.
So we’re talking about identities in class, and how they’re shaped, and how what we perceive as our identities can be different form what others think our identities are. So the professor asks us to write down the identities that we think of ourselves, and some that others might perceive us as. So, I write down that I identify as a puerto rican lesbian- not really thinking I’m going to have to say anything about it.
…And of course, we’re asked to talk in groups about our identities and how we think that some people have gotten the wrong idea/impression/thought something of you different than you were. My first, immediate thought is- “no one ever knows I’m gay”– but I didn’t really want to say that to a bunch of people I didn’t really know. But then I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t know them. If I had a group full of American students, I probably would’ve come right out with it– I usually revel in surprising and confusing people that way.It was that I was the only American student in the group, and I didn’t feel comfortable telling the other group members, because I assumed they were conservative and wouldn’t be okay with it. So I’m thinking- I have to work in a group project with some of these girls for the rest of the semester, I can’t have them potentially freaking out about it. Then one of the girls starts talking about how everyone thinks that Asians are so conservative and that we don’t really give them a chance to be themselves and show us any different, and it’s hard for them because they’re uncomfortable with the language. So then I start having this super weird, awkward, and unnecessary internal struggle, because I’m like- well shit, I’m just not even giving them the chance to be totally cool with this. I’m just assuming that because they’re Asian, for some reason that also means they’re homophobic. But I had already figured out a different example to use and I felt awkward that I hesitated, and I couldn’t believe that something so trivial would trip me up like that! As I left, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself.
Have any of you ever hidden something like this just to avoid an assumed discomfort?