We want to hear what you envision the Wesleyan queer community to look like for the 2016-2017 school year. We want to know your expectations and concerns. Queer spaces? Queer parties? Queer events? Come discuss–there will be snacks.
Creating a safe and supportive queer community at Wes requires that we all work together so please invite your friends!
The wonderful Marissa Castrigno ’15 wants you to know:
Wesleyan’s queer community and its allies are invited to discuss this week’s topic (probably queer bodies but don’t set your heart on it yet), share their personal experiences, raise questions/concerns, chat, bond, hang out, shmooze, juggle flaming tennis balls (not really), and generally have fun. We will also be running through events upcoming in October (Pride Month) to continue the process of planning and organizing. See you there!
Date: TODAY, Tuesday, October 1 When: 7:30-8:30pm Where: Usdan 110
One Friday morning in October, I trekked across campus to Dean Mike Whaley’s office to talk about a chalking controversy that took place about a decade ago. The previous weekend, two students had gotten into a physical confrontation with President Rothfor chalking on Wyllys Avenue during Homecoming. A few hours after chatting with Dean Whaley, I took part in a massive legal chalk-in on Church Street sidewalks as midday traffic cruised by. Dave Meyer strolled by and tried to confiscate the chalk. We explained that the sidewalks are Middletown property. He continued on his way.
Institutional history has a funny way of working in cycles, and Dean Whaley, who arrived at Wes in 1997 and was Dean of Students in 2002, probably knows this better than anyone. Surprisingly, Whaley told me that he loved the queer chalking when he first arrived at Wesleyan. He also mentioned that President Bennet specifically reached out to him, an openly queer administrator, for advice. But unlike the former students I interviewed, Whaley framed the conflict primarily in terms of a hostile work environment. “The problem was, OK, you don’t like the ban, we get that,” Whaley said of the protestors. “But how do we resolve this hostile work environment?”
Was the answer to adopt some vague notion of “community standards”? Or geographic boundaries for chalking? Or an end to the anonymity? Or ought the Wesleyan community realize, as Professor Potter argued, that “no one has the right not to be offended”?
“I’m not sure I would have been able to have that kind of rapid acceptance of myself as I did if I hadn’t had that community-driven chalking experience.”
Shortly after posting the most recent installment in Wesleying’s multipart retrospective on the Chalking Moratorium, an interview with Claire Potter, I read an essay by Dan Abromowitz, a friend of a friend (dare I say friend?) who goes to Princeton. Abromowitz’s piece is titled “Physical Princeton,” and reading it I realized more vividly than before that campus debates over free speech, public space, and personal expression on university property extend well beyond Wesleyan’s borders.
Not that there’s ever been much of a chalking culture at Princeton. Abromowitz can only recall a few instances, but they stuck with him long after their whitewashing. The practice has been labelled vandalism. “But chalk isn’t vandalism,” Abromowitz responds. “It’s the very mildest attempt at staking out a bit of temporal space for yourself outside of closed doors at an institution that cannot survive as such if you pass through it like anything more violent than a breeze. A university that rejects even that gesture is one that would very much like for its students not to really exist, one that operates essentially mechanically, as a series of abstract investments and returns, rather than a space unto itself.”
I reference this essay here because Dan Abromowitz told me to it fits well, I think, with the perspective of Nicholas Myers ’05, a Wesleyan alum who was closely involved in chalking with the queer community in 2002. Myers recalls chalking as a formative and empowering part of his queer identity. It was also a means of reclaiming space, carving a niche for himself on a campus where “queer visibility” was not an impossibility. Chalking the night before National Coming Out Day was “‘one of the most liberating experiences I have ever had,” Myers told the New York Times in 2002. “I’m not sure I would have been able to have that kind of rapid acceptance of myself as I did if I hadn’t had that community-driven chalking experience,” Myers told me over the phone ten years later.
Queer retreat is a day-long adventure to a location off-campus where we’ll get to know each other, relax, talk about what’s on our minds, and have lots of fun. This is open to any and all queers at Wesleyan and will be a great chance to meet new people and get away for a little while! We’re really excited about it, and you should be too!
If you’re at all interested and want to know more, email atatarian(at)wesleyan(dot)edu.
Date: whenever Time: wherever Place: we’re meant to be together
But actually, email atatarian(at)wesleyan(dot)edufor more details.
Liz Bradbury, author of the critically acclaimed Maggie Gale Mystery series, will be visiting campus to talk about and read from her newest hot Lesbian romance/mystery Being the Steel Drummer and share her experiences as a Lesbian writer/publisher and activist.
Recently featured in Diversity Rules Magazine and Lesbian.com Magazine, Liz has also written over 350 nonfiction published articles, columns, and essays. She founded the Valley Gay Press newspaper in 1998, has served as co-editor of Sinister Wisdom Magazine, and is the co-creator of the Medusa Literacy Society for Fiercely Independent Lesbian Publishers.
A full time Queer activist, Liz founded Pennsylvania Diversity Network in 2004. PDN is now the largest LGBT advocacy organization by membership in Pennsylvania.
Liz will be discussing her history of Queer activism, her experiences as a fiction writer, and how self-publishing is a way many Queer authors have made a successful living. She will take questions during the presentation and will be available afterwards to speak individually with those who have questions about writing and publishing their work.
Date: Thursday, November 1 Time: 7pm Place: Judd 116 Cost: Zero
From Leung You Rong Michael ’15 and Emily Hoge ’15:
Are you gay, lesbian, queer, or otherwise? Do you want to make a difference in the lives of young Middletown high school students?
Leung You Rong Michael ’15 and Emily Hoge ’15 will be starting the Wesleyan Peers for Queers Program next semester in collaboration with Middletown High School, and they need your help! This program aims to pair up Wesleyan students with queer high school students in an effort to provide an emotional support network to them. Monthly informal get togethers would be organized for students to get to know each other better.
They will also be initiating a Wesleyan QueerSib Program next semester to establish a stronger rapport within the Wesleyan queer community, whereby Wesleyan upperclassmen will be paired up with underclassmen. Please come with ideas or suggestions on how you want this program to be run!
We will be holding a meeting on Monday (5 Dec), 7pm at Allbritton 004 to discuss the details of the project and to coordinate our schedules for next semester’s activities (The meeting will last around 15 minutes).
Please send an email to yleung(at)wesleyan(dot)edu or ehoge(at)wesleyan(dot)edu for more info.
Date: Monday, December 5th Times: 7pm Place: Allbritton 004
When National Coming Out Day hits Wes, ithitshard. Queer kiss-ins at Wesleyan date back at least as far as 2004, when The Argus published Zach Goldstein ’05’s Wespeak, “Reach Out and Kiss Someone.” For Goldstein, an Olin kiss-in wasn’t enough: the author directed queers to Freeman, to NorthCo, the Davenport (aww), and to MoCon (aaaawwww), kissing all the live-long day. Key quote:
We can’t chalk, but we were queer before Crayola came along. We can grope, squeeze, pull, lick, suck, fuck, strap on, rip off, tie up, tear down, reject, revolt, talk, write, sing, scream, re-appropriate, play, pull, push, and turn heteronormativity on its head.
Then, more recently, there was the 2009 Olin kiss-in: the chalking, the group photo, the ARE YOU FUCKED? sign-ups.