This week, we talked about hate crime culture in my deviance class. I’m not going to go in details about the topic, however, because I found something else in the class to be important. The conversation, on its surface, was about hate crimes based specifically on sexuality, ethnicity and religious affairs. As the discussion continued, there was an awkward silence after the professor would ask the class for their thoughts. I am a LGBTQ student of color, and I found myself speaking out a lot more than I expected on the topic of hate crimes. I didn’t mind at all.

What piqued my interest was the realization that some students thought (or at least I assume they thought) I would be uncomfortable talking about these matters. I enjoy being able to be the first person to speak up on many issues, providing a highway for other students to travel, leading to interesting and engaging class discussions.

Overall, these are just classroom discussions about problems found around the world. Often, a class will be faced with an awkward silence that some students don’t want to break. After this class, I know there is definitely a reason for people to feel uncomfortable, and I’m just satisfied with the fact that this discomfort is not concrete. You can make people feel comfortable by opening up. When you’re willing to discuss topics openly, even ones that may pertain to you personally, you become even more interested in what your classmates have to say.