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Come Out, Come Out, Queerever You Are??!?

barclay_barrios
0 4 41
When I was in grad school I was all BAGGS--you know, Big Angry Gay Grad Student. Everything I read in my grad seminars was homophobic or, at the very least, heteronormative and I played the gay card in class discussion proudly and often. So, when I started teaching it was only natural for me to want to come out to my class, in part because, given the rates of suicide among LGBT youth, I wanted to serve as some sort of role model for my students gay, bi, straight, trans, and otherwise. I remember distinctly my first classroom coming out. We were discussing Gloria Anzaldua's selections in Ways of Reading and I made some comment about how I object to her connecting gay men and femininity because, well, I was gay. What struck me most about that moment of revelation is just how much of a non-moment and non-revelation it seemed to be. There was no reaction from the class, not then and not afterward. Perhaps they had figured me out long ago or perhaps at a major urban campus running into someone gay was such a given that it didn't require any sort of comment at all. Dunno. We discussed my coming out (and coming out in general) in the Teaching Writing class I was taking at the time. [True story: Richard E. Miller discussed that class discussion and its unusual conclusion in "The Nervous System."] Perhaps I have become jaded with age, but I don't tend to come out "officially" in class any more, though I imagine at least some of my students find me obviously queer. For me, personal revelations of any kind within the context of classroom discussion only have value if they add to the discussion. These days, with most the readings I teach, coming out would just be gratuitous. I like that I have a pedagogical standard for personal revelation but I still sometimes wonder if coming out is not the "right" thing to do (whatever that means). As informed and enlightened Bitsters, what do y'all think?
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About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.