This is the first article in a new Das Tor collaboration with the LGBT-Birds+ Club, which focuses on sharing LGBT+ stories with the Thunderbird community of future business leaders.
For years, I had flirted with the notion that maybe who I was remained hidden – at least in part. From scouring wikiHow pages titled “how to know your sexuality” to quizzes that in a few questions professed to know who you were attracted to, honestly, you’d think I would have realized sooner. But in a world with massacres in Orlando bars, jokes casually thrown around by childhood mentors with little worry for who may hear, and often straight dismissals of an integral part of a person’s identity, I found it easy to hide that piece of myself and bury it beneath everything else that makes me who I am.
In the Fall of 2021, I became a rugger. While learning this new sport, I was thrown into a world of backwards spin passes, scrums, rucks, and not to my surprise, a spectacular community of women – many identifying as LGBTQ. And as with most groups, stories became the glue that connected us.
Whether huddled around a fireplace, grabbing beers at the local brewery, or on a hectic Costco run, we were always sharing stories. One night, we were piled into a car heading back from a day trip. It had been a long day, and while my eyes were heavy and I was prepared to drift to sleep with the lull of the ride back, someone started to tell the story of their first time kissing a girl. Suddenly I was wide awake, and my eyes widened with just the notion of it! Then, a passenger of the car recounted coming out to their parents – all of the frustrations and the yearning to be accepted. I was pulled in completely, hearing the ups and downs of her experience and twinged with curiosity if my family would be similar. Another laughed while telling the story of being caught with their secret girlfriend and how shocking (and awkward) it was to face that situation. Everyone in the car laughed the deep belly laughter that felt like it would never end.
A few weeks later, I vividly remember sitting around a crackling fire. We were snacking on those delicious buffalo fries with cheese and hot sauce on top. A friend sat wrapped in her blanket, ranting frustratedly about how her bisexuality is too often dismissed. I remember sitting there, my fingers numb from the cold, tugging at my knit beanie wondering if that’s the reality I would face.
Over time, each story started to bring out that part of myself – to gently unfold and reorganize the parts of my identity and show me that there was room for this piece of my identity as a bi woman. And as I got to know this wonderful group of people, I was taught that being queer was not my entire identity but one sliver of it. There were so many different ways to be queer, something I had long struggled with, seeing only stereotypical versions represented in the media.
Maybe it was trauma or a learned shame that stopped me from owning that part of myself for so long. It certainly helped me to see more of the beauty, the richness, and all of the LGBTQ history that has so often been forgotten or rewritten.
The goal of this series is to shed light on the fantastic existence of LGBTQ voices, legends, folklore, and figures of the past. And to share a community with you through stories that demonstrate love, heroism, betrayal, friendship, and some imagination, leaving even the passionless reader waiting for the next publication.
Over the course of this semester, and hopefully for many to come, visit Das Tor News, where LGBTQ stories will unfold – from a rich history of (almost)forgotten stories to representation across industries and heroes in unexpected places.