In lower school, your level of kindness defines you. In middle school, your level of popularity defines you. In upper school, your clique-identity defines you. In college, your majors and minors define you.
Your courses of study are incredibly important components of your identity in college. So choose wisely. I decided to choose the FGSS major and the LGBT minor (they go hand in hand, actually):
- Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major: At Cornell, we don’t simply study “Women’s Studies” or “Gender Studies,” but rather, we study FGSS. By this, I mean to say that we study the intersectionality between feminist movement, gender—in its general form—and queer politics as it relates to broader institutions.
As a gay-identifying male, I came to Cornell already sure that I would major, or the very least minor, in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I feel that it’s imperative that queer identifying individuals be familiar with the history of the movements that have given them the rights and privileges that they currently have. Granted, we don’t necessarily have very many privileges, but relative to the 1950’s, we’re living pretty well in our current American society. What I truly enjoyed about the major, prior to coming to Cornell, was the idea that such a major even exists! With Ivy League institutions being what they are, I was surprised that Cornell was so liberal and progressive so as to have such a major.
After spending two years at Cornell, and having taken over 15 courses in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and LGBT Studies departments, I think I have a basic understanding of what goes on in the major. What I won’t do here is tell you graduation requirements—as a simple Google search could help you to answer that. What I will tell you is why FGSS is such an amazing major:
- The classes are small: Cornell boasts its 20,000 student population. FGSS, being the major that it is, doesn’t really attract that many students to begin with—after all, it’s no political science or biology. However, small classes are fundamental when it comes to in-depth discussion on the social issues that marginalized communities face. It’s also imperative that classes remain small so as to create safe spaces—queer and feminist politics are controversial issues and everyone should feel comfortable voicing their opinions.
- You get a different perspective of history: Coming from a high school that specializes in law and society, Global history, and American history, I can wholeheartedly state that I never once learned about queer history. My APUSH professor once mentioned something about Stonewall, but that was just a brief aside. Cornell’s FGSS major has given me an in-depth perspective on the people that have given me the freedom to walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand. As a social activist for the queer community, I find it wonderfully enlightening to hear the stories of those who have re-shaped society for the better.
- Being with people who understand you: The FGSS major and LGBT minor (which usually go hand in hand) are full of feminists and queers. That’s not to say that there aren’t allies, but the majority of the people who study these disciplines have a purpose for being there. Every class is full of students who understand my struggles and with whom I feel comfortable sharing my personal stories. It’s like being in a queer-straight alliance 24/7!
There are, of course, so many other reasons for my being in the FGSS department, but those are just a few. I would recommend that you take at least one course in the FGSS or LGBT Studies departments before you graduate—hey, you get to watch porn for class!