The Spectrum: Wildcat Welcome fails to adequately address gay sex

Joe Madden, Columnist

This essay is part of The Spectrum, a weekly forum in our Opinion section for marginalized voices to share their perspectives. To submit a piece for The Spectrum or discuss story ideas, please email [email protected].

Walking into the sexual education night of Wildcat Welcome, I thought that, because I was at college, gay sex-ed might be on the table. I had learned from previous Essential NUs to expect a few provocative jokes from speakers and to leave without learning anything but feeling OK with having sat through the session if it meant somebody else had learned something. My high school experience with sexual education had been an uncomfortable slideshow of unilateral demands for abstinence and extreme cases of herpes without mention of gay sex. Like most kids, I wasn’t super excited for the ENU, but I still wanted to learn more of what most of my friends’ high schools taught them: how to have safe sex.

Unfortunately, the most I learned about gay sex-ed that night came from a particularly racy episode of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.” The ENU presented a scenario in which two guys started flirting with one another at a frat party and one, the straight-acting one, tells the other pre-intercourse that he identifies as a woman. Everybody I talked to thought the play was daring, provocative and well-done for including the LGBT community. I walked out noting the skit devoted to the LGBT community hit the heavy topics of sexual orientation and gender identity in the span of a few minutes.

That was the problem with the ENU: It hit the L and the G and the B and the T. It did not educate its audience about them. In fact, it confused them. Sexual orientation and gender identity are separate, and the character who identified as a woman had no reason to bring up her gender identity to hook up with the gay one.

At best, the ENU was tentative in treating gay issues. Sex was not nearly as explicitly discussed as it was during the heterosexual skits. I am also sure that I was not the only member of the audience who noticed how the heterosexual and even lesbian couples kissed, grinded and groped one another and how the gay couple had no physical contact whatsoever.

Most importantly, I would argue that only a very small portion of Northwestern’s gay student population has ever had to deal with hitting on a guy for a few minutes, finding out he identifies as a woman and deciding to have sex with him anyway at a fraternity party. A much larger portion of NU’s gay student population is probably having anal sex. Why did the necessity of gay men wearing condoms before having anal sex to prevent the contraction of HIV go unmentioned? Why did I learn about the existence of the HIV-preventative medication, PrEP, from the aforementioned episode of “How to Get Away with Murder” rather than from NU? Why didn’t the play stress that saying anti-homosexual slurs to a gay couple at a bar or in a fraternity, as I have already seen happen here, is not OK? Overall, why did the writers of the skit think talking about LGBT communities was more important than teaching them?

Going forward, the writers of the sexual education ENU should focus on the substantive issues facing the LGBT community: discrimination, sexual confusion and increased susceptibility to HIV. That night of Wildcat Welcome would have had a much more positive influence on the incoming gay freshmen particularly if it had mentioned the existence of HIV-preventative medication, written the fictional gay couple as being as physical and sexual as they did the others and advised against the expression of anti-homosexuality seen far too frequently at fraternities and bars.

Joseph Madden is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.