Last Thursday, stand-up comedian Sam Killermann visited Oswego State and put on a routine that entertained while delving into LGBT issues.
His gender expression has given him some unique insights into how U.S. culture stereotypes and makes “snap judgments” of people.
He identifies as metrosexual, a term for a straight male person who dresses himself effeminately, in line with common stereotypes of gay men. Others’ assumptions frequently put Killermann in situations where he has to “come out” as straight. He says it’s annoying and he has faced much personal insecurity because of it. Still, he has no problem milking his predicament for humor, as well as a chance to educate.
“I’m more than not-gay. I’m a person,” Killerman said.
Killermann, who lives in Austin, Texas, opened up with some stories about his childhood in Chicago. This included his imaginary friend, who his sister insists was a real kid who never played with him, and the time he ripped off his nipple on a double-dare stunt gone wrong and (he claimed) it grew back.
Killermann had great stage presence and the audience lightened-up as he transitioned to his early college experiences. Dating was a problem. On one occasion, when he asked a girl if they were officially boyfriend-girlfriend, she told him he was just her “gay BFF,” despite the fact that they had made out.
When he’s asked people why they think he’s gay, he’s received some baffling answers, such as, “You look clean and talk good,” or even, “You’ve got a gay forehead.”
Killermann used his odd experiences as a way to open the door to a larger discussion about stereotypes, prejudice and oppression of minorities. In the middle of the show, he had some audience members come on stage, asked them what kind of shampoo they used and then had them read a statistic, such as the higher suicide rate among LGBT youth, or the sum of marriage benefits that many are denied. He then explained the flaws of “treating others as you would like to be treated” in a wide and diverse world. Instead of the Golden Rule, he proposed the “Platinum Rule,” to ask others how they would like to be treated, and respect that.
He closed with a hilarious story about an orgy he accidentally attended in Austin. Whatever preconceptions people came with, it was hard not to like him.
“I was going to make fun of this guy so hard,” said junior Bryan Cayea. “But I had an attack of empathy.”
“I think he’s found a really good way to promote social justice though comedy. It drew in more people than it would have otherwise,” said sophomore Juanita Diaz, the director of finance for Owego State’s LGBT Pride organization.
Pride’s officers helped sell T-shirts featuring Killerman’s “Genderbread Person,” a cookie character who visually demonstrates the difference between gender identity, gender expression, sex and attraction in an individual.
For those who missed the show, Killerman further explores these issues with articles and “edugraphics,” which can be found on his website.