Queer Corner: Our Invisible Visibility



The thing that I hear most often, both in and outside of the queer community, is that we’re an invisible group on this campus. People don’t hear about our events, know about our organizations or know who our

members are.

The frustrating part of this notion is that our community is visible in a lot of aspects. We have a LGBTQ Initiatives office (that a lot of other schools don’t have) that brings speakers to campus and holds events specifically about queer issues.

Every spring semester we hold “Big Gay Weekend” with events open to surrounding schools and Colgate students for three days. There is a Gay-Straight alliance called Advocates that meets every week to do activism work

on campus.

There are posters all over campus for GLOW: the queer group specifically for students of color, and support groups for athletes and Greek organization members. All of these are active in the community and visible if you’re paying attention.

So why is our community said to be invisible? The CCLS reports that approximately 5 percent of students on this campus identify as being not straight, so that means that in any of your classes with 20 people, one of them is statistically likely to be queer. Why do people not know of our resources and our events, if they are publicized and made visible, like most of the other events and departments on campus? Do people not know of any queer people on this campus? Are people scared to go to queer events?

Junior Benae Beamon puts it best: “Straight people don’t concern themselves with queer issues because they are not affected, which is sad because there is no desire to hear the difference and question it, there’s no desire to learn. What is most frustrating is that because they ignore the queer community they accuse it of invisibility.”

This can be applied to almost any group on campus, because all too often we don’t think we should concern ourselves with issues that don’t affect our identities. The queer community on campus is especially affected, because there are members of the community that don’t feel comfortable being open, so to some there is an air of secrecy surrounding us to protect individual identities.

While this may be true of some people closeting themselves for personal reasons, it doesn’t mean that the entire community is closed off and hiding from campus.

All too often, Colgate’s campus closets itself to the queer community, avoiding events and even individuals, because of the issues they bring up.

When we put an event together and advertise it, most often we get a random group of queer students and their

close friends. Our events are never just for queer people only, they’re for the entire campus to experience different aspects of our culture (usually intersecting with other cultures and communities on this campus) so that all sorts of people are able to engage with us on multiple levels. We aren’t trying to be excluded.

It’s frustrating for us because we want to be part of this campus, this supposed diverse community. We can only be so out, and we need help.

We need allies who want to learn about queer issues, either because they have a friend who identifies, or simply want to learn more about issues around them, so that we’re not just talking to ourselves, and can start making this campus the open, safe and accepting place it should be. I’m only one gay man writing for a college newspaper, and I’m doing what I can to try to change campus for the better.

The CCLS will say the same thing year after year until we come together as a united community and make a commitment to bettering students’ lives. All I’m asking is that you open your eyes and see the groups on this campus trying to make good changes and support them.

In case you were worried, attending a LGBTQ event won’t make you gay. Going to an ALANA event won’t change your skin color, going to a basketball game won’t make you more athletic (darn), and being in Women’s Studies won’t affect your genitalia. I know, I was worried too.

The worst that will happen is that you might get good food, meet some interesting people and learn about important topics. Scary, huh? You’re attending one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the country, and this is one of the most important features of liberal arts: challenging your own views and having diverse experiences over many different topic areas. How boring and safe is it to do the same thing every week? Get involved in the campus and see all of the areas that you’re missing. More happens on this campus than you’d believe.

Plus, rainbow cake? Best. Thing. Ever.