A Year of Queer: Recapping 2013-14

A Year of Queer: Recapping 2013-14

As the year comes to an end and we start to finally slow down, it is bittersweet to be writing our last Queeriosity article for the year. This year has been one to remember for the Queer Resource Center and Pride Alliance. For those of you who might not know — the Queer Resource Center (QRC) is a brave and intentional space for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, gender queer, pansexual, everyone in between and ally student at Amherst College. We seek to empower the lives of LGBTQ students by uniting and celebrating the diverse individuals in our community, creating exciting and innovative programming and events and collaborating across campus with student and departmental organizations.

Pride Alliance, Amherst College’s LGBTQ student organization, meets weekly to discuss relevant topics and issues related to sexuality and gender identity, provides campus wide educational, social and advocacy programming and actively engages with the Five Colleges to build a strong support network for queer students and their allies. The Pride Alliance meets in the Queer Resource Center, located in the basement of Morrow. Now that you know WHAT the QRC and Pride Alliance are, as well as WHERE we are located — we hope you stop by and say hi!

Queeriosity is officially finishing its fourth semester in the Student. You have read articles about the super long acronym that embraces the spectrum of identities within the queer community, coming out, asexuality, trans*identity, dating, manhood and masculinity, bisexuality, family and marriage, pronouns and queer history. Today, we reflect on this past year and highlight some of the work that the QRC and Pride Alliance has put out into the universe.

Some of you may remember that just last year the QRC was named the Rainbow Room. Well, this is where most of our story begins. At the end of last spring, students decided they wanted to change the name of the center. They conducted a campus wide survey, met with LGBTQ alumni, and spoke with President Martin about a proposed name change — after much deliberation, the Queer Resource Center was born. When students arrived back on campus in the Fall of 2013 they were welcomed with even greater news. The part-time Coordinator had become a full-time Director, the QRC’s name change had been implemented everywhere within the college’s system, the QRC had an operating budget, the Center was to be updated, a QRC logo created and last but not least, the QRC was going to be hiring student staff. The name change sparked the conversation and was just the beginning steps to transforming the Center from a club space to a professionalized and institutionally supported resource on campus. This was a great way to start off the year — students jumped right in!

Our queer and ally students work endlessly to engage and transform the experiences of the Amherst College queer community. We have seen a year of collaboration and co-sponsorship like no other. We have worked with the Multicultural Resource Center, Center for Community & Engagement, Study Abroad, Native American Student Organization, African & Caribbean Students Union, Counseling Center, Women’s & Gender Center, Black Student Union, SWAGS Department, EDU, UMass Pride Alliance, Public Health Collaborative, UMass Stonewall Center, Student Health Educators, Association of Amherst Students, Hampshire College’s Center for Feminisms & Queer Community Alliance Center, Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect, Residential Life, Mental Health & Wellness, Religious Life, International Student Life Office, La Causa, Amherst LEADS, Food for Thought and, honestly, the list goes on. We are proud of our campus and Five College collaboration efforts; without the hard work and resources of these organizations and departments we would not have been able to do the work that needs to be done. We cannot thank you all enough for your energy, passion, and time to make Amherst College a home for ALL students.

We wanted to highlight some of the amazing work that has been created this year due to these collaborative efforts … We celebrated Queer History Month and National Coming Out Day in October, Transgender Awareness Month and Trans* Day of Remembrance in November by bringing the rockin’ Janet Mock and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore to the Valley; hosted our Annual World AIDS Day Dinner, watched the amazing artist Staceyann Chin perform her powerful works of art; hosted our weekly LGBTea Times; Queer Talks, Gay Amherst Parties (GAP); took 11 Amherst College students to the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: Creating Change Conference in Houston, Texas; brought blogger Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous for Queer Black History Month in February; attended and presented at the Five College Queer, Gender & Sexuality Conference hosted by Hampshire College, where we brought Tristan Taormino and Jiz Lee; brought spoken word artists, Sister Outsider Poetry; hosted a Storytelling event about the intersectionality of identities; brought the fabulous and fierce Wilson Cruz; facilitated DIY Sex Toy Workshops and the Low Down on Going Down panels; brought Hudson Taylor from Athlete Ally, hosted a Queer Identities Abroad panel; hosted a workshop on how to Address & Interrupt Microaggressions; hosted an event about being LGBTQ and an International Student, sponsored an exhibit by SD Holman — BUTCH: Not Like Other Girls at Food for Thought, held our Annual Pride & Allies Week — handing out over 800 I Support Love t-shirts; hosted our first ever Drag Show with Drag Queens — Shangela & Gia Gunn from Rupaul’s Drag Race; hosted our famous Gender Your Cookie event, Queer Prom, Self-Care workshop for student leaders, ice cream socials; facilitated joint Pride Alliance and Queer People of Color (QPOC) meetings with UMass, Smith & Hampshire College; and the list goes on and on.

Again, most importantly we want to say THANK YOU to everyone at Amherst College and within the Five College Consortium that works collaboratively and endlessly with the QRC and Pride Alliance to create opportunities that foster a community of inclusion and respect. It is stated in our mission that we honor and celebrate those identities within the LGBTQ spectrum and we have shown that this is what we do! Of course, this is not without acknowledging the work that still needs to be done on our campus, within our community, and the world. We are taking things one step at a time, but know that the QRC and Pride Alliance have been working to create an LGBTQ themed housing floor proposal, an LGBTQ Speakers Bureau, Brave Space Trainings for the campus, Trans* inclusive health care options, gender inclusive restrooms and most importantly, a proposal to move the QRC to a central — more accessible location on campus.

As the semester comes to end, we have one more event that you do not want to miss. We ask that you please join us this Thursday, May 8th at 7p.m. in the Freidmann for our Second Annual Lavender Graduation, with keynote speaker Kim Crosby. Lavender Graduation is a commencement celebration recognizing the achievements and lives of our LGBTQQIAA Amherst College seniors as they commence their life journeys. Each graduating student invites a special individual to share that student’s hopes, dreams and memories of Amherst College with the audience. We hope to see you all there!