Our evolving identities

At IWU, we often say LGBTQIA to represent a very broad spectrum of identities and self-understandings.  In fact, the thing we may have most in common as a queer community, is that each of us understands our sexual orientation and gender identity as a unique reflection of our experiences, feelings and biology.  Further, our identities as underrepresented sexual minorities intersect with other identities grounded in race or ethnicity, faith, social class or standing, just to name a few.  Coming to know, understand and express who we are is one of the major tasks that confronts us as a community, and you will find the freedom to explore and describe yourself here at IWU.  Find below a few of the identity archetypes that we often refer to and draw upon in our self-definition, and that fall generally within the framework of the LGBTQIA community. 


For many of us, our self-understandings around sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped and influenced by our interconnected understandings of and lived experiences of other primary and secondary identity factors, such as race, faith tradition, socio-economic status, education level, age, ability or disability, genderedness, nation of origin or citizenship, among others.  Understanding the ways that identities come together to create confluence and dissonance, and obstacles and support for individuals is perhaps more valuable and critical to discussions and understandings of sexual and gender identity as self-understandings of those constructs in isolation.  And it underscores the risks and pitfalls that abound when assumptions or generalizations are made about the experience or identity of one individual compared with that of another.  Unpacking identity at the intersections helps us all to grow and develop and become more fully human, but it demands that we are gentle, considerate and careful with one another, and show respect and kindness.