Flashes of Pride: Caraway

Carrie George

In ninth grade, Krista Caraway a sophomore history major, discovered the term “pansexual” at her local library’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance.

“Having that information and context really helped me to identify my thoughts and feelings and how gender and sexuality and romantic orientations affected my life,” Caraway said.

Often times, when Caraway comes out to strangers as pansexual, people ask her if she likes having sex with pans.

“Anytime time I talk to anyone who isn’t in the (LGBTQ) community about my sexual orientation and my romantic orientation, they’re just like, ‘What does that mean, are you into cookware?’” Caraway said.

Caraway defines pansexuality as having a romantic and sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of their gender identity or assigned sex.

Unlike bisexuality, which generally implies attraction to only males and females, Caraway said she feels pansexuality encompasses all genders and all orientations.

“It’s just a term that’s more comfortable to me and feels more natural,” Caraway said. “I never really put a label on myself until I got to pansexuality.”

Caraway keeps her romantic life private for the most part, bringing up her identity only occasionally.

In an attempt to “normalize” her identity, Caraway has never directly come out to her parents.

“Until it becomes relevant to a specific topic of conversation, I just don’t feel the need to say anything,” Caraway said. “Straight people don’t have to tell their parents they’re straight. It’s just implied, so I roll with that same system.”

Caraway lived in the LGBTQA Living Learning Community on the third floor of Korb Hall her freshman year and returned this year.

The friends Caraway made in the Living Learning Community her freshman year remain some of her closest friends, she said.

“The Living Learning Community is a close and inclusive community, so they were the first friends I made on this campus,” Caraway said. “With the friends I made through the Living Learning Community, I never really felt alone.”

Caraway said she would not have had the same friend group or college experience if she had lived in another dorm.

“It’s really gotten me out of my shell,” Caraway said. “Before I started hanging out with people from the Living Learning Community, I would just study eight hours a day, go to class, then study eight hours a day, and go to class. I really just didn’t know how to have fun.”

Caraway, who has depression and anxiety, also thinks the Living Learning Community serves as an important emotional support system for members of the LGBTQ community looking for “stability.”

“There’s definitely a higher rate of mental illness than you would find on other floors,” Caraway said. “But it’s not necessarily because the people on the floor identify as being a part of the LGBTQ community.”

For Caraway, living with people who understand how certain aspects of sexual orientation and identity contribute to mental illness helps her feel validated and less isolated.

“It’s really nice to be able to sit there and comfortably talk about my issues to someone who has also experienced those problems,” Caraway said.  “Having that support system is so much better than dealing with those issues on your own.”

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