Unofficial Orientation Series 2016: Queer Life

“Heteronormativity is killing this country”

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Group photo from ESQUE’s 2015 showcase.

This is part of our 2016 Unofficial Orientation Series. A quick reminder that you can check out the welcome post here and past years’ series here.

This post was a bit hard for me to come up with, because I didn’t just want to give you all a list of stuff that you can all find v easily on the Wesleyan website (even though that is helpful and I’m probably still going to do that); I wanted to tell you about my experiences as a queer person at Wes, so that this won’t be just another article that is all words without proof or personal meaning.

Because of these motivations, I started thinking about all of my experiences in my short time at Wes so far, especially about my experiences as a queer person. It was hard. Mainly because none of them were something I experienced because I’m a gay guy; they were all experiences I had as me.

Before I explain what I mean, I want to say that I’m not speaking to everyone’s experiences. Obviously everyone hasn’t gone through the same things that I have. But for me, my favorite thing about Queer life at Wes is that it’s just LIFE.

Let me elaborate: In my hometown there is no escaping from being the TGF (Token Gay Friend.) Every time I hang out with the people I consider to be my friends, my sexuality is brought up in some form or fashion. I’m seen as this anomaly…like, I’m accepted, but I’m still on the outskirts because I’m different than them.

At Wes, in my experience, it’s never like that. You are you and that’s all that matters. Sure, I’ve had conversations about my sexuality. I’ve had to do the whole “coming out” thing again cause I’m with a new group of people, and I’ll probably always worry about being accepted. But again, most people at Wes are not the people in my small hometown. Most people at Wes understand that sexuality/gender/etc. exists on a spectrum, and that the most important thing is that you’re doing you.

Hopefully there are others who agree with me, and hopefully this is an experience that all you queer beauties get to have. The most important thing to know is that there are people here who will love you for who you are, support you for who you are, and cherish you as the amazing human that you are.

Of course, this definitely isn’t to say that Wes is some sort of queer utopia. There are always going to be factors at Wes structured and informed by heteronormative ideals, and there are so many amazing people currently working to change policies and culture at Wes to make it more queer-friendly and disrupt the heteropatriarchy through mediums like art.

However, if you are coming to Wes in the fall and you’re a bit worried, don’t be! There are people here that will support you! Also, if you’re questioning, fluid, transitioning, and maybe just discovering, that is so dope too. Navigate the sex and the life and the everything however you please.

Anyway, here are those resources I was talking about:

  • The official Wesleyan Website Queer Life Tab
  • There are Queer Community Interns – Elijah Jimenez ‘18 and Jose Luis Sanchez ‘18 (They are v cool people.)
  • The QRC (Queer Resource Center) – “Located in the University Organizing Center or UOC (190 High Street), the QRC is a student-run office and meeting space with a library of books, magazines, safer-sex information, newsletters, and videos. The Queer Community Intern works with the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD) to help maintain the QRC, plan programs such as the monthly Queer Community Meetings, Pride Month, and the Queer Retreat, and to build bridges between the various student groups on campus.”
    • They hold support group every Thursday
  • Esque: A queer performance group on campus that works together to plan a performance during semester.
  • Spectrum: A group focused on confronting the needs of queer students of color.
  • WesKink: A group on campus to address all of your kink concerns. They are an open group that answers any and all questions about different kink lifestyles.  
  • QueerWes: A Facebook group for all things queer at Wes (omg that sounds obvious lol)

Another thing to know: Wesleyan does, in fact, have gender neutral restrooms. There is at least one gender neutral bathroom in every building on campus. That being said, they may not always be in the most convenient locations. Though we do make sure that everyone has a place they can be comfortable, the bathrooms may not always be the closest. For instance, when living in the dorms, you will vote as a floor to decide whether or not to keep the bathrooms gendered, or make them gender neutral. This may mean that you have to travel a floor or two in order to find a bathroom you feel comfortable using. Hopefully, this is something that will change with time, but oftentimes the frosh that come in and don’t feel quite comfortable will vote that the bathrooms remain gendered, so be aware.

This is the first iteration of a Queer Life post in our Unofficial Orientation Series, and the resources section definitely does not capture every possible tool that could make it easier for an incoming frosh to feel safe and included at Wes, so please please please email staff[at]wesleying[dot]org with anything you think should be added to this post.