By: Aaron Warga
Photos by: Caroline Thomas
So… I’m not straight. If you’ve met me, you probably won’t find this surprising in the slightest. My mom certainly didn’t. However, I’m not homosexual. I wouldn’t correct you if you called me gay though. I’m super gay. Like, if you were to ask, “How gay is Aaron?” the answer would be “The limit does not exist.” In the LGBTQ community we have the expression “shits rainbows.” Well, I like to think that’s a pretty accurate description of me.
So what’s the deal? You’re gay but you’re not homosexual? Aren’t you contradicting yourself? Well you see, I tend to view the word “gay” as a sort of umbrella term for anyone whose sexuality is not primarily “straight”. However, that’s just how I approach it, I do not speak for anyone else. For the record, I identify as polysexual. What I mean by this is that I’m attracted to people who are men, people who are women, and people who don’t identify as either. I’m sometimes hesitant to call myself a bisexual because I’d therefore be labeling all the people I’ve ever been attracted to as “men” or “women,” even those who don’t identify as such. That’s not very considerate now, is it?
As a Jesuit institution, it’s not surprising that Georgetown has had a rocky history with its LGBTQ students. Not that long ago, it wasn’t safe to be out on campus. Though things are a lot better now, we still have a long way to go. Georgetown has taken a monumental step towards solving this issue by establishing the LGBTQ Resource Center, even though this only happened because students sued the school. I remember how my heart dropped when last year when I found out a student was called a slur and assaulted on M-Street, and a freshman was harassed and chased into his dorm. I would never mean to say that Georgetown is unwelcoming or hostile for LGBTQ students. In fact, I think it’s doing pretty damn well. To be fair though, I am from Texas, so I’m kind of pleasantly surprised whenever I meet someone who doesn’t hate the fact that I exist. Sorry for the ramble, I love talking about gay stuff. I promise this relates to fashion. This is where the “I am.” shirt comes in.
The “I am.” shirt is kind of amazing. By wearing it, you make it very clear that you’re either LGBTQ or an ally. For us LGBTQ students who choose to wear it, it’s a piece of political fashion, a statement. It’s an acknowledgement of our precarious position in this world, especially here on campus, and a sort of testament to having overcome doubt and fear in the pursuit of a genuine, though at times difficult, life. Not every LGBTQ student is privileged enough to be able to be out and wear this shirt. I’m lucky enough to come from a culture and family that accepts me for who I am, but this certainly isn’t the case for everyone, and it’s important to acknowledge that. As my friend Ida once put it, “There is no shame in survival.”
“I am.” shirts are given out on the days leading up to this event, and each year cycle through the colors of the rainbow. Unfortunately, this year the color was… ORANGE (gasp). Last year it was red, but I was trapped in a closet and couldn’t get a shirt. Okay, so I wasn’t actually trapped in a closet. I was just, you know, in the closet. It’s kind of ironic really, the red “I am.” shirt isn’t in my closet because I was in the closet. It’s such a shame, red is way better than orange. I can’t pull of orange. Even so, I’m just happy I got a shirt this year.
I also love that the “I am.” shirt has an interesting history. For years, students would present President DeGioia with a shirt, but he wouldn’t accept it. One year, all students who entered Healy Hall wearing the shirt were dragged out by police. Eventually DeGioia did accept it, and it just so happened to be a year when the shirt was pink, which worked out well because pink is especially gay (yaaassss).
Every year students find innovative ways to put a personal spin on this shirt. In the one week since they were handed out, I’ve already seen a sleeveless crop top and a backless halter dress. I’m really impressed. So much so that I’m going to write another article about it.
You probably saw the “I am.” shirts all over campus on Friday, which was Coming Out Day. This is a relatively new Georgetown tradition, where students set up a doorframe in Red Square, and symbolically come out of the closet. I’m on the board of GUPride, and the night before Coming Out Day, we held an event where we chalked up Red Square with lots of gay puns, complaints about being mistreated by the school, and even a rainbow pathway that would lead out from the closet door the next day. In the morning it was all gone. Apparently it rained the night before, and it seems there was a power-washing mix up where only the walls of ICC were supposed to get hosed down, but the square was too. Ugh, that rainbow took forever to make.
Despite this unpleasant surprise, we were able to re-chalk the square and create another rainbow road, which I was pretty happy about. I used to be a gymnast, so when I symbolically came out through the doorframe, I knew I wanted to flip through it. So I did. So did my phone. I was worried the phone insurance company would ask how I broke it. “Oh, I was just, you know… tumbling through a closet door down a rainbow, and I forgot it was in my pocket.” Even though I smashed the crap out of my phone, it was still an amazing day. I finally got an “I am.” shirt. I got to do flips down a rainbow. I’d say it was sufficiently gay.