Flashes of Pride: Bowen

Carrie George

Junior sociology major Jimmy Bowen struggled to find a word to describe his sexuality. When he discovered “achillean,” he knew immediately that it fit him perfectly.

“Achillean just means I’m gay, but I also recognize trans men,” Bowen said. “Sometimes gay can be seen as just cis men, and I wanted to be more inclusive with my terminology.”

His friend, who identifies as sapphic, encouraged Bowen to explore the term. The term, which Bowen and his friend found on Tumblr, unifies members of the LGBTQ community attracted not only to cis men.

Achillean is the male-equivalent of sapphic, a term that arose from the Greek poet Sappho, most-known for her poems about women and love.

“I feel it suits me better,” Bowen said. “I’ve been attracted to trans men before, and I don’t want them to feel ostracized when I say I’m attracted to men.”

Though Bowen embraces his identity with pride and confidence, he still encounters people who refuse to accept him due to his orientation. One such person is his half-sister, a family member to whom he can never say the words “I am gay.”

“Being gay, being queer, being any sort of LGBTQ is an endless process of coming out of the closet,” Bowen said. “That’s just something about the LGBTQ community that I think people don’t realize.”

Bowen’s half-sister is a Jehovah’s Witnesses. Within her religious community, she has the right to remove anyone who comes out as gay from her life, Bowen said.

“I am allowed to act the way I am, but I am just not allowed to speak the words or talk about who I like around her,” Bowen said.

Though the rest of Bowen’s family supports his identity, he still makes a point to differentiate the way he acts around family and around friends.

“I actually have two separate Facebook accounts: one for family and one for friends, so I can be more open,” Bowen said.

Bowen uses his confidence to inspire and support fellow members of his community.

“I can still be proud because that shows that other people can be proud, and that encourages more resistance against other anit-LGBTQ policies,” Bowen said.

Though Bowen tends to feel safe and accepted on campus, he fights for his community members who do not.

“Being a gay cis man who is also white, I am very much the most (accepted) of any LGBTQ individual,” Bowen said. “I’ve never been invalidated or felt small.”

Bowen worries more for the less populated and more misunderstood sections of the LGBTQ community, such as trans individuals, who often face more discrimination for their identities.

“What we say sometimes is when you look at LGBTQ, the ‘L’ is pretty big and the ‘G’ is giant, (but) the ‘B’ is small and the ‘T’ is tiny,” Bowen said.

With all of the different identities clustered into the simple five-letter acronym of LGBTQ, Bowen said it is important, “not to let (anyone) slip through the cracks.”

Belonging to the LGBTQ community has a lot of complexities and misconceptions, Bowen said, but he believes in society’s growing tolerance and acceptance.

“It’s hard some days that I can’t be completely open with everyone,” Bowen said. “But I think it’s just the world we live in, and hopefully with the generations that are coming, it’ll get better. I believe soon enough that we will live in a world where it’s going to be okay.”

Carrie George is the is the administration and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].