Queer Corner: Queer at Colgate

Kate Pochini

It would be wildly presumptuous of me to say that I can speak for the entire queer com­munity on campus, so I’m just going to speak for myself as an active member and leader in the community: I like Colgate. I might go so far as to say that I love it.

This might just be me being sentimental in my last semester on campus, but I can tell you that I didn’t always like it here. We all understand how small this place can be. Now take ten percent of that and cut it in half, and then cut that in half again and you have the out queer community on campus.

This used to bother me. I would listen to my friends from home talk about how there were ten queer girls in their freshman dorm alone, and here I was joining every LGBTQ group on campus and I had only met three.

Someone once told me that I would never be happy here and that I should just transfer to NYU or Smith because Colgate would never change. Colgate would always be a difficult place for queer students.

Are there problems with our school? Of course. We’re far from perfect. People still have homophobic slurs yelled at them. Our institution still provides difficulties for transgen­der and genderqueer students. There are still people afraid to come out to their friends/ teammates/brothers/sisters. And unfortunately, there is still discrimination within the queer community itself.

There are a lot of improvements to be made, both institutionally and socially. If we want change, we need to be political. We need to be active. But as someone who person­ally feels uncomfortable being political, I know that by simply being ourselves and being open, we can make an impact, as well. Whether you come out as queer or as a straight ally, you’ll be making it that much more difficult and unacceptable for someone else to be homophobic.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always liked being different. There’s something about not being like the majority, especially in a place that often feels very uniform, that is fulfilling to me. But that might also be a function of being a hidden minority.

I can walk through a crowd of people and feel cool because I might be the only lesbian, but that fact is only apparent to me. I can hide my sexuality so easily that it actually takes a concerted effort to make it visible. And maybe this is also part of the difficulty in being queer on campus.

It takes so much effort to not inadvertently cover your sexuality and gender identity that sometimes the queer community just blends in. We disappear and fall away and what’s left is the same old Colgate, never changing.

Well, maybe it’s just me again, but I’ve already felt a change. I’ve watched the queer community grow, get more involved, be more honest and become closer as a community. And that’s what I’ve grown to love – this feeling of family among members of the queer community on campus.

Sure, there aren’t a ton of us, and it’s not like we’re all exclusively friends with each other, but we all know each other.

We all see each other on a regular basis. And we’re always here for each other. May­be three years ago, I would have preferred to be just another pierced, tattooed girl swim­ming in a sea of lesbians down at NYU, but now, three years later, I get to hang out with a group of people that I honestly care about, with whom I share common experiences and common struggles, and who I consider to be a family. And I’d take that over NYU any day.

Contact Kate Pochini at [email protected].