Unofficial Orientation Series 2017: Queer Life

“Heteronormativity is killing this country”

Taken from the 2017 Showtunes Sideways performance. Showtunes Sideways is a musical cabaret that opens up a space for those to perform roles in songs from musicals which they wouldn’t traditionally be cast in. PC Maia Nelles Sager ’17

This is part of our 2017 Unofficial Orientation Series. A quick reminder that you can check out the welcome post here and past years’ series here.

Hello sweet sweet children! This post is here for all of my children of the rainbow to get a sense of what it is like to be a Queer identifying person on campus. This is a revamped version of the post I wrote last year (which you can find ~here~). Now that I’ve gotten a bit more experience under my belt at Wes (I’m going to be a Junior. Ik. I’m so old), I thought it was fair to update my general feeling on The Community™ at Wes. On top of my general experiences, this post will also contain some resources that are here for all LGBTQIA+ bbys.

Off the bat, I’m gonna let you in on a secret: It’s not easy being queer. Shocker, right? As a community we face hardships that many do not have to deal with, and that is no exception at Wesleyan. People can still be annoying af to deal with, but overall this is a community of care and support and people want to see you blossom into the beautiful and radiant Queen you are meant to be. As you read on, please be aware that these are my personal feelings and experiences, and I definitely am not trying to speak for a whole group of people through this post.

The biggest lesson that I have learned at Wesleyan as a gay man is that being gay is only one part of my identity, and that it is the compilation of all aspects of myself that inform my navigation through life on campus. I am a queer, low income/first gen, person of color, and all of that truly informs my daily life. Though people are here to support you and uplift you, the thing that I’ve learned from the Community here is that it’s less of a Community and more like several (lower case) communities. I do not have the same experience as a non-binary, white, upper-class human, and us both being under the Queer umbrella does not mean that we are going to be GBFs, or that we are going to use the same resources. I need different things than them, and we want to make sure that all experiences are represented and supported.

Another thing I’ve found is that you aren’t going to be the Token Gay Friend here. We’ve all dealt with being the TGF, but being queer is not a reason that people befriend you at Wes. People wanna be friends with you because of the beautiful human being that you are in totality, not just because you happen to be queer. I definitely came here expecting to have so many queer friends and we were going to live our little queer lives together and fulfill our gay agenda, but that isn’t how things have panned out. We still have our agenda, but I don’t have queer friends, I just have friends. It’s just as tokenizing for me to say I want gay friends as it is for someone outside of the community, and I recognized that problem real quick. I found that it was easy to be my self, and find people who vibe with who that person is no matter what their personal background.

Of course, this kind of acceptance doesn’t mean I don’t have conversations about my sexuality. I had to do the whole “coming out” thing again cause I was with a new group of people, and I’ll probably always worry about being accepted. But people here 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.

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!

Anyway, here is a list of some of the University’s resources that are here for you to use:

  • The official Wesleyan Website Queer Life Tab
  • There are Queer Community Interns – Jose Luis Sanchez ‘18 and Jamie Shi ’18 (They are v cool people.)
    • Elijah Jimenez ’18 was a past intern, and still an available resource.
  • 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 groups every week
  • 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 (if the title didn’t give it away.)
  • Open House: The Queer community Program House, which “is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities. The goals of Open House include generating interest in a celebration of queer life from the social to the political to the academic. Open House works to create a Wesleyan community that appreciates the variety and vivacity of gender, sex and sexuality.” (Source)

Another very important thing to know: Wesleyan does, in fact, have gender neutral restrooms. There is at least one gender neutral bathroom in every residential space and almost every building. That being said, they may not always be in the most convenient locations. 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. If they stay gendered, this may mean that you have to travel a floor or two in order to find a bathroom you feel comfortable using. Hopefully, as time goes on, people will be naturally accepting of all genders, and we don’t even have to bother to have this vote.

I hope this information has helped to shed some light on what it’s like to be queer at Wesleyan, but this post definitely is not the be-all-end-all for the resources available to queer students so please feel free to email staff[at]wesleying[dot]org with anything you think should be added to this post.