From a young age I knew there was something different about me. Since I grew up in a Conservative Christian environment, I never really understood what this difference was. I didn’t fall into stereotypes that other girls around me had: I gravitated towards hanging out with boys, played in the mud, liked comics, and was involved in almost every sport. More notably than any of that: I didn’t really find myself liking boys. Sure I thought some were cute, but I found myself staring at the blonde haired girls more than not.
Despite this, I still didn’t understand that this meant that I wasn’t straight. It wasn’t until I started watching shows and reading books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) characters that I realized that I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling. I distinctively remember the first time I was “exposed” to an LGBT character in a show: it was Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (pictured above with her girlfriend, Tara). When Willow started realizing that she liked girls it made me start realizing that I was like her; I too liked girls (as well as guys). Here was a strong, book smart (not to mention Wiccan) female character who also was figuring out that she was a lesbian. This character crafted by Joss Whedon was just one of many of his LGBT characters in his other works.
Willow wasn’t the only character that helped me blossom as an LGBT youth. As far as literature, I fell in love with the character of Lucy from the Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. Lucy was a rising star in the IT side of the FBI and happened to be a lesbian. Then I found out that not only was the character a lesbian, but the Author, Cornwell, was as well. That’s when my young head realized: gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender people were all… well just people. We hold all different jobs in the world and our sexuality was just one aspect of ourselves. It’s a little sad to me that it took reading/watching these characters to realize that but at the same time it definitely helped me and shaped who I am today.
Once I started realizing what exactly “gay” was, it was easier for me to pick out who was and who wasn’t in film and literature. I immediately started to gravitate towards the LGBT characters in shows and also started watching shows that predominantly featured LGBT characters. Shows like Queer as Folk and The L Word quickly became my favorites. Other shows that happened to have LGBT characters also were high on my list.
Then I started writing about them myself. In fact almost every one of my written works has a main character that is part of the LGBT community. Writers write parts of themselves in their characters so why not use my experiences with sexuality as a tool to help others? It is my hope that my own characters will help other members of the LGBT community like the Whedon and Cornwell characters helped me.
In this day and age we are seeing more and more LGBT characters on the screen and in books but there was a time where they weren’t as prominent; times where having a gay character was “edgy” (and heavens forbid we had a trans character on a show). Entertainment reflects what’s going on in that time period and with more and more acceptance of LGBT characters we’ve seen an influx.
I’m sure you all have noticed the absence of new posts on my blog, but there was a good reason for that: I was slugging through the depths of hell also known as my Remote Sensing Class. When I started out this class I was excited to learn more about the discipline and was eager to get into playing around with the satellite imagery. At first it was great, the professor seemed knowledgeable, and the lab assignments weren’t that hard. *insert belly laugh here*
Yeah, three weeks in and I was screaming Uncle. Up until now I’ve had hard classes, I’ve had classes with idiotic TAs, and I’ve had classes that I couldn’t wait to be over with. This class though was on a whole other level. My brain ached during every online lecture, the TA made me not even want to go to the lab session, and our assignments had nothing to do with that was being taught. Thankfully for me, I have an awesome friend and former classmate who works for the USGS as a Remote Sensing Specialist. He was my saving grace but even with his help, I struggled.
In the end I was still excited about my final project though. I was going to build off of the first project I did for the Spatial Analysis Class: Mount St. Helens Landscape Change Post-Eruption. Pretty cool, huh? Yeah well then the harsh reality hit that this project was going to be close to impossible to do. It was one thing to do all the research and write about the topic, it was a whole other to run the different analysis in the ENVI software. So five days before my project was due I decided to totally change it and focus on the vegetation change around Mount St. Helens after the eruption.
After tons of coffee, a couple unexpected days off work, and some source assistance from my awesome, perpetual student Mother from Another Life (MFAL), my project somehow miraculously got finished. The research turned out to be even better than the first time around and the image results I got were pretty awesome. Even better was that I finished it two days before it was due which still leaves plenty of time for me to triple and quadruple check everything.
An audible sigh of relief left my mouth last night after I finished that monstrosity of a class. Now I know that Remote Sensing just isn’t for me (and I even said that in our last discussion question which was a critique of the class). The satellite images look awesome and as far as reading about it and doing the research, it’s quite fascinating. However, sit me in front of the ENVI software to play around with the images using different algorithms and formulas and I’m out.
Thankfully my next class is Web Programming. I’m actually excited for this class since I have a background in web design and that essentially what this class is. More importantly it will help to have a less challenging class to deal with while the wedding approaches. Let’s hope my stress levels drop considerably.
Samantha (Sam) Curtin is a Geospatial Information Science Graduate Student at University of Maryland and a Penn State Anthropology Alum. She has a passion for horror, dark fantasy, anthropology, technology, and religion. By day, Sam is a technical editor for the federal government. Her first books "Dark Cell," "Deal with the Devil," and "Summer's Hollow" are available on Amazon.com. All are published through her publishing company “Behind the Curtin Publications.”