Friday, January 31, 2014

So… That time in the locker room.

Well hello there.

My name is Heath Fowler, and, just to preface, I am very new to the concept of blogging. 

Before I get into it an introduction is in order. I am a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Social Work, and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I hope that through this blog I will be able to vocalize my experiences and critically exam how they mesh with identifying as queer. Thankfully Peers for Pride has granted me a good amount of knowledge to be able to do this. I write this not only to spew out my thoughts, but also to encourage discussion and motivate the sharing of other perspectives. So I hope I do all right and some conversation will be produced.

I am taking this swimming class. Why? Because I used to swim in middle school and I wanted to relive my athletic glory days. It turns out I’ve been out of the game for some time and kinda forgot how to swim, so now I’m just trying not to drown. Anyway, to get in the water I have to change into my bathing suit. No biggy, EXCEPT YES IT IS. Because to change I have to strip down naked in a locker room full of men who are also stripping down naked. This is my first time having to do this, as I found a loophole in high school that permitted me to avoid gym classes.

Honestly, it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but there are a few things I ponder when I leave redressed and unharmed. Like, what if they knew?

There is a strict code I have observed as I navigate cautiously through this space:
1)     Don’t look at other guys. If you do, do NOT lose eye contact.
2)     Say bro. Say bro A LOT.
3)     Talk about sports, especially sports you’ve played at one point in your life. Forget that you are not currently an athlete. Conversation about working out is equally respected.
4)     Talk about girls and sex. AND ONLY SEX WITH GIRLS.
5)     If you aren’t doing any of the above just change, leave, and don’t speak to anyone. K, bye!

Thankfully I haven’t encountered anything blatantly homophobic or revolting, but, again, what if they knew? This bravado of masculinity is not comforting, and I would not be surprised to overhear comments that take jabs at others sexuality. Obviously I am no athlete, and the other people in that locker room (no matter how badly that want to delude themselves) are not athletes either. I can only image the difficulty of being an queer athlete in this space, though. I would expect the discomfort and emotional drainage to be crippling and inhibit bonding between ones teammates. 
This is just considering the difficulties of gay, lesbian, and bisexual athletes. The complexity surrounding the locker-room environment for trans individuals and genderqueer persons is something I would have to write a thesis on! My point is that there is absolutely reason for LGBTQ folks to not feel safe in a locker-room atmosphere, and I now get to experience it first hand.
On the plus side my free-style is getting fierce.
Peace out!

Heath “Flawless” Fowler

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