Revealing her true self

Nicole Robinson

Lisa Rudd is a junior print journalism major with a minor in both religious studies and anthropology. She’s originally from the Chippewa Valley and currently resides in Menomonie. Her sister’s name is Sara. Her nephew is Hunter. She’s proud of being a dork. She’s a Virgo. She’s single. She likes punk music.

“The straight community looks at it like just a phase …. The gay community sees it as a phase too.”
Lisa Rudd

Lisa Rudd also happens to be bisexual.

“We’re all just humans,” Rudd said. “We put our pants on just like everybody else … one leg at a time.”

Coming out

Rudd first realized she was different around the fifth grade, she said. “But I didn’t really fully acknowledge it until I was a senior in high school,” Rudd said.

“Coming out is an individual process,” Rudd said.

If someone wants to come out and is afraid, that’s completely normal, Rudd said. She suggests that people don’t force it because they’ll know when the right time is.

Rudd came out nearly one year ago.

“I came out all the way and to everybody the day after National Coming Out Day last year,” Rudd said. “Pretty much everyone on my mom’s side of the family, including my mom, knew about it before then.”

“I wasn’t shocked,” her mother Mary Rudd said. “I’m not very judgmental and I’m open, which is how we raised our kids. Lisa is a talented, unique girl and I don’t care if she’s bisexual, homosexual, or straight because I love her regardless.”

But to totally come out and make it clear to everyone in her family, Rudd wrote letters to all of her father’s side of the family, including her father.

“Only a couple people on my dad’s side acknowledged it and were supportive – no one else said a word.”

Since Rudd came out before Christmas last year, seeing her father’s side of the family in light of her coming out “was a little awkward,” she said. However, she said, her parents were behind her 100 percent if anything were to be said, though nothing was.

What made the process much easier for Rudd was knowing that she had her close friend, senior Robyn Thompson, to talk to.

“Robyn actually came out to me before I did to her,” Rudd said. “That made it a whole lot easier when I needed someone to talk to.”

“Because of Lisa coming out, it brought us closer together,” Thompson said. “It was just one more thing we have in common.”

“If people need someone to talk to, they should seek out someone that is already open because it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Rudd said.

“My father, mother, sister and close friends were all very supportive,” Rudd said. “When my dad read (the letter) and talked to me he said, ‘Well I pretty much figured,’ which made me say something like ‘I wish I would have known that sooner.'”

“We’ve always had an open relationship,” her mother said. “She could have came to us years ago because, to me, it’s not that big of a deal. I guess it’s hard for some parents, but I suppose we’re different.”

Finding a place

The difficult part about being bisexual, Rudd said, is that both the straight and gay communities have misconceptions and assumptions about you.

“The straight community looks at it like a phase, like something I’ll get over and be straight again later,” she said. “The gay community sees it as a phase too, that I’ll realize one day that I’m a lesbian.”

Furthermore, some people seem to think bisexuals don’t exist, Rudd said.

The problem with those misconceptions is that she knows she’ll always be this way, Rudd said.

“Your sexual orientation isn’t based on your current spouse or partner,” Thompson said. Bisexuals are who they are for good, she said.

Additionally, being bisexual makes it harder for her to find partners, Thompson said.

“It gets really frustrating because the straight community don’t think we’re real and gay women won’t date a bisexual for the fear that she’ll leave her for a man,” Thompson said.

“The hardest part is being on the fence and between two stereotypes,” Rudd said. “But another part of that is sometimes thinking to myself ‘well, maybe I am just a lesbian’ or ‘maybe I am straight.’ Doubting myself and questioning myself because of the atmosphere around me.”

Importance of LGBTSA

“There’s activism like trying to erase marriage barriers, there’s trying to raise awareness and visibility on campus, and there’s the support aspect,” Rudd said.

“The fact that we create a visual aspect campus wide is really important,” Thompson said. “It’s a good feeling to know that you’re not alone.”

“Homophobia, heterophobia and biphobia have to quit!” Rudd said.

The most important role of LGBTSA for me is activism, but for them it might be the social support aspect, said Bob Nowlan faculty advisor for UW-Eau Claire’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Straight Alliance.

“I think LGBTSA contributes toward creating a more tolerant, accepting, supportive, inclusive and equal environment between GLBT and straight people,” Nowlan said. “Both on campus and beyond. It’s ultimately the most important contribution the organization can make.”

Who am I?

Rudd took two years off from school for self-reflection and to get a better feel for who she is as a person, she said.

A lot of people find themselves and mold into the people that they are during college, but she felt she needed to take those two years to find out who she was before she came to UW-Eau Claire, Rudd said.

One of the first things someone may notice about Rudd is her uniques hair style.

“Just because of my hair, I don’t want people to assume I am a lesbian,” Rudd said. “Just like I don’t want people assuming I’m straight, because that means you’re cutting out a whole other gender of people.”

Rudd said she cut her hair because she no longer wanted to worry about it anymore. Likewise with her wardrobe, Rudd said she likes to wear sweatshirts simply for the reason that they are comfortable.

“It has taken me this long to be comfortable in my own skin,” she said of the misconceptions and stereotypes.

“I definitely feel more free now because I’m not trying to keep part of myself hidden,” Rudd said. “It’s just a burden off my chest.”

Living in fear

There’s always a little “twinge of fear” in the back of her mind knowing that she had friends who have had instances of hostility toward them just for being LGBT, Rudd said. “I have one friend who was threatened to be curb-stomped just for being gay.”

“I still haven’t worked up the courage to put a bumper sticker on my car with the gay pride rainbow on it just because a friend of mine had the word ‘gay’ keyed into the side of her car.”

The future

Ultimately, Rudd said she hopes to expose people to things that they wouldn’t normally look at or consider thinking about.

Rudd finds great inspirational value in Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Dhali Llama.

“If I could be just a fraction as effective as them, then I’ve done my job to spread tolerance.”

In terms of a future relationship, she could see herself with a man or a woman, Rudd said.

Gender does play a role in what she considers attractive, because she turns her head at an attractive woman and an attractive man, but their personality plays a bigger role.

“As far as my future goes, I’m just aiming to be happy,” Rudd said.