Cheyenne, WY (KGWN)- More than 50 people gathered at Laramie County Community College on Wednesday for the Student Alliance for Equality forum on gender and sexuality.
Four panelists, Jaren Artery, Dr. Catherine Connolly, Jennifer Mumaugh, and A.J. McDaniel all discussed their unique experiences they've had because of their sexuality and gender identity.
The two-hour forum focused on the panel, but also on audience questions. Questions ranged from what the panel thought made someone gay, to whether or not they've ever felt fear in the state of Wyoming because of their sexuality and gender identity.
Dr. Connolly is a professor at UW and was there when Matthew Sheppard was murdered. She said her 11-year-old son was terrified for the safety of his two mothers. Artery said he grew up in a conservative home in Wheatland, and hid his own sexuality for much of his adult life out of fear of the reactions of family and friends and even the fear of losing his job.
A.J. McDaniel is a transgender man who identifies as straight. He and his partner Jennifer share a fear of what others might think if McDaniel doesn't do a good enough job of "passing" for a man. McDaniel said he's not even allowed to use the men's restroom at his workplace.
For the audience, the afternoon was an enlightening experience, as many were just learning the distinction between sexuality, sex, and gender.
Another panel was held at 6:00 Wednesday night.