I am a resident assistant on my campus and I am a lesbian. I have a girlfriend and we walk around campus holding hands. Keep in mind our campus is very close minded and we are always being stared at. Most the time I don't care and find it interesting to watch people stare. This past week though has been particularly rough because my residents have seen me holding hands with my girlfriend and stared also. I want to be comfortable but I don't know how if my residents aren't comfortable with me. Should I continue holding her hand and showing affection or shall I shove it all back down and pretend I am straight?
You mention that some of your residents have recently seen you holding hands, but you don’t say whether they have actually expressed discomfort about it to you or acted in a way that suggested they were uncomfortable.
I don’t believe that hiding your sexual orientation will help your residents in any way (have you considered that some of your residents might themselves be lesbian?); nor do I think that “being uncomfortable” (if that is, in fact, the case) about your being a lesbian is necessarily a bad thing for them. You might see this situation as an opportunity to provide education about same-sex relationships to them.
Have you discussed this situation with a supervisor? Does your campus ever provide presentations to residents about issues that may potentially be problematic or about which they may be unfamiliar (drugs and alcohol, date rape, racial/ethnic sensitivity)? If so, might a presentation on gay and lesbian awareness be a possibility?
My best advice, Susan, would be for you to continue to be yourself—with a smile on your face. Let others know (in a non-pushy way) that you are happy to be a lesbian and happy to talk about it or answer any questions they might have about it. You might be surprised at the positive response you get. Good luck.