Marissa Sichta often doesn’t think she’s gay enough to fit in with Lincoln’s LGBTQ community.
For Sichta, a senior English major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, places such as the LGBTQA Resource Center as well as Karma Nightclub and Cabaret, a local gay dance club, seem tight-knit and exclusive. She said this is because she believes Lincoln and Omaha’s LGBTQ communities are small enough that everyone knows each other.
It’s not that Sichta thinks she’s been mistreated by members of the LGBTQ community, but rather what she feels is her own social awkwardness preventing her from having the confidence to walk up to other gay and lesbian people and introduce herself.
“I obviously don’t go (into Karma) looking like your typical lesbian,” she said. “I feel like I would be judged.”
Sichta said lesbians such as herself face a stereotype of having hairy armpits, a bad haircut and wearing what Sichta calls “butchy” flannel. And although Sichta admits wearing her fair share of flannel, she said she and many other lesbians don’t fit the stereotype.
“I’ve gotten the ‘Oh, you’re gay?’ a couple times,” she said. “I’m definitely not a girly girl by any means. But I do like to dress nice sometimes.”
Although Sichta said she doesn’t deal with lesbian stereotypes on a daily basis, she does occasionally get strange questions. One time, a friend of hers asked if she could borrow a tampon from Sichta. Before Sichta could respond, her friend assumed she preferred using pads to tampons, simply because she believed lesbians hated “anything that penetrates.”
Sichta graduated from Gretna High school in 2010. During the last few months of her senior year, she came out to her closest friends. Since she started attending UNL, Sichta has come out to her sisters as well as her parents and said she has received nothing but love and support.
But even though Sichta has no problem telling someone she is a lesbian, she is much more interested in people knowing who she is as a person. She said she doesn’t openly discuss her sexuality unless she is trying to make a point.
“I’m not just like, ‘Hi, I’m Marissa. I’m gay,’” she said.
Sichta has been in a relationship with another female UNL student for about two and a half years. She said that when her girlfriend and her hold hands in public, they do get the occasional stares.
“We’re the same as any straight couple,” she said. “I know some people would be like, ‘Eww, why?’ but it doesn’t really bother me. Usually if I see a mean look, I think, ‘All right, sucks for you.’”
But despite the weird looks, Sichta believes UNL to be a much more accepting and liberal environment than her hometown. She thinks it’s because college students have bigger things to worry about than another person’s sexuality.
“You know a lot of people here, people don’t care as much,” she said. “People have bigger things to worry about here: graduation, exams, finals, work. I feel like (being gay is) just not as big of a deal here.”
When Sichta graduates from UNL, she hopes to get involved with a nonprofit organization where she is doing hands-on work and has the ability to travel. Wherever Sichta ends up, she knows there are going to be people who are accepting of her sexuality and people who don’t like it. And although she isn’t going to base her decision of where to live based on its LGBTQ community, Sichta hopes that wherever she moves, she will have the same rights as everyone else.
“It’d be nice to be treated like a straight human being,” she said. “I still don’t see why in 2014 we’re still having this problem that gay people, or bi people, are second-class citizens.”
Sichta doesn’t think she will go banging on any doors and speaking out for equality any time soon, but she doesn’t want to blend in to the heterosexual community either. In a perfect world, Sichta says she wants to offer her support from the sidelines.
“I’d like to get more involved, but I‘m also OK with not being involved,” she said. “I’m content with where I am.”