Kaitlin Legg on life, sexuality and having “the coolest job ever”

Andy Moser, Features Editor

Kaitlin Legg bellows a warm welcome through the open doorway of her first-floor office in the University of North Florida LGBT Center. Her socks have little pictures of pizzas on them, putting my bland, tasteless white ones to shame. She looks at me through her orange-tinted glasses and her smile radiates a bubbly energy as she introduces herself and welcomes me to sit down.

Legg holds the director position at the center (“the coolest job ever,” she says) and, as such, she oversees programs and events that take place in the center and does whatever she can to make sure LGBT students and their concerns are represented and addressed. She also works alongside students who volunteer in the center. It’s a job she enjoys and approaches with an eager sense of appreciation and unpredictability.

“I think one of the most rewarding parts is watching students transform over their time at UNF,” she said.

Legg appreciates being able to see how students grow and learn from the time they set foot on campus to the time they become empowered and in-control individuals when they graduate.

“I see that more, for the most part, with LGBT students. But I even see it with students who come to UNF and maybe they think the LGBT center is stupid, or they don’t understand why we exist, or maybe they’re even, like, homophobic. And then I get to be a part of their life in some way and help them get to know our community better and watch that transformation, so it’s pretty amazing,” she said.

Legg formerly identified as bisexual, but now identifies as queer, noting the term’s flexible definition.

“Coming out is sort of seen as an LGBT person’s right of passage. I didn’t have a big ‘coming out’ story or anything like that. I actually never really came out to my parents. It was more like I just kind of kept living my life and being interested in what I was interested in or, like, dating certain people and now having this job,” she said.

Legg first started questioning her sexuality when she was 16. She was growing up in a relatively conservative Rochester, New York suburb.

“It was back when Myspace existed. I don’t even know if all of your readers will remember what Myspace was,” she admitted with a light laugh. “But it was really cool when I was in high school, and one of the things on Myspace… there was this option that you could select for your identity, and you could say that you were straight, or gay, or bisexual, and I had for a while been thinking about me being bisexual. I had a crush on one of my good friends, who was a girl, when I was a kid. But I had just never really thought about that for myself, and so I remember being really nervous and then clicking the ‘bisexual’ button and, like, saving my profile. And then nothing happened, and it was no big deal and no one ever brought it up to me.”

Legg identified as bisexual through most of high school and didn’t identify as queer until about a year through college. She knew she was interested in more than one gender, but didn’t find a fitting term for herself until she learned of the word “queer” in her gender and women’s studies classes.

“That was more fluid than bisexual. I thought about my sexual orientation, and even my gender, as being more open to different possibilities as opposed to closed-off to one specific type of person or gender,” she said as the light from the window caught a blue and green floral tattoo running up her left arm.

Kaitlin Legg

Though she eluded bullying, she was not immune to other things.

“As a bisexual, and then a queer-identifying person, I often found that both straight and gay communities didn’t really see my identity as valid. When I had my first girlfriend, I remember meeting some of her friends and not really being accepted by them, because they felt like I wasn’t a real LGBT person, or that I was just going to go back to dating men or cheat on my partner. That was really hard for me because I felt like my straight friends didn’t really understand where I was coming from. I didn’t feel like I could talk about who I was with them. But then I didn’t have this really welcome, open-arms queer or LGBT community either, and it took me a long time to find that.”

As a feminine queer woman, Legg has also been subjected to sexism.

“Both in the queer community and just in the general population. And dealing with issues around sexual harassment and assault. Those have been really prevalent in my life, probably more so than some of the issues around homophobia,” she explained.

Legg says her experience has taught her that it’s important to not only look at issues pertaining to one community but issues that impact multiple communities at one time. She emphasized that intersectionality should be considered within the conversation.

The struggle to come to terms with one’s own identity is a big one. Many young LGBT people face challenges navigating their own journeys of self-discovery. In a world where more and more identities and terms are becoming available, it can be difficult to decide which one to claim, or which combination of ones to claim, or even to not feel comfortable claiming any of them.

“There’s also a lot of pressure, then, to find the word that fits for you,” Legg said. “I always try to tell students, who don’t know how they want to identify, to just live into it. Live into whatever you’re experiencing. Don’t worry too much about the label, and maybe it’ll come for you and maybe it won’t.” During those difficult and delicate times of internal conflict, it helps to have a strong and dependable social network to lean on.

Legg’s consists of friends and roommates she can call upon whenever she needs to. They support each other, regardless, and they come together in difficult times, an example being after Hurricane Irma ferociously rumbled through Florida last September. They checked in with each other to make sure everybody was okay, and they made meals for each other. In her words, they’re “the kind of people you could call on in the way that you would ask a family member for help.”

Finding friends like those isn’t always easy, especially in a new environment like college.

Legg says she always tries to get to know the various students coming onto campus, as well as how they’re doing and what they think UNF could be doing better.

Anyone looking for a place to voice their ideas and concerns, or anyone just looking for an open and friendly chat, can find Legg in Bldg. 58 E., Rm. 1111.  

“Please come in,” she said. “You have an awesome, unique, diverse, quirky group of people who really want you to be a part of our community.”

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].