TA Spotlight: Gary Strain

By Indira Midha



Name: Gary Strain
Alma Mater: Bowling Green State University for Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies
Position at UIUC: First Year Doctoral Student in Communications and Media
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs


I interviewed a teaching assistant from my “Intro to Popular TV and Movies” course after listening to them give a guest lecture about gender representation in class. They explained the plethora of gender representations, sexual orientations, and all of the appropriate coinciding terminology. Looking around the Lincoln Hall Theater, I saw the minds of many students being blown. In a world where it is finally starting to become acceptable to express yourself however you choose, it is very important to know that not everybody fits into a rigid, “traditional” category. Whether it be gender, race or some other attribute, we should all verse ourselves in understanding the different identities as best as we can. That being said, it is important to be courteous toward others in asking respectful questions.

IM: How do you feel about people who are not a part of the LGBTQ+ Community asking questions about your non-traditional gender or identity?

GS: There is a sort of politics of recognition, when do people see you as who you truly are? People’s perceptions of you change how they think they get to interact with you. It is a frustrating thing to experience people say things like “you remind me of my one friend who ticks this same minority box as you do.” All people in a minority group are not the same. Questions are welcome when coming from someone who I think is genuinely trying to understand, but for someone who doesn’t even know you to come up to you with all of these questions, it miffs me a bit. When someone I do not know just assumes that I have to explain everything to them, I am a bit taken aback. They are working off of the assumption that their identity doesn’t have to be explained to me. Everybody should do their best to educate themselves on different identities because this world needs to strive towards finally becoming an all-inclusive place.



*Image Sources:

Image courtesy of Gary Strain

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