I’ve probably (definitely) announced my sexuality on the Internet way too many times for many people’s liking, but here’s the thing—LGBTQ+ issues haven’t diminished in relevance. And I’m a firm believer that positive change starts with conversations. So let’s talk about this together.
I don’t particularly love making watered-down diplomatic statements when it comes to important issues, so you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit blunt. Lately, being a queer person in the United States has been exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, I love being part of the queer community. My queerness is a big part of who I am, and it will always be important to me. But as much as I love this part of myself, it’s been really difficult watching my community suffer while we haven’t been able to physically reach out to each other.
For instance, given our current political climate, we’ve been really freaked out. We still are, and there’s been a lot of hurt and fear that we’ve had to process especially these past few months. A lot was at stake for us with the 2020 election, and the U.S. as a whole isn’t necessarily the most queer or trans-friendly place to be. I’ve had to learn to be wary of every new person I meet. People can always be nice face to face, but I always have to be cautious as to whether the person I’ve just met believes that I deserve to exist or have rights. That’s really scary to go through when it feels like you’re all by yourself.
I, like many other members of the queer community, live in households where everyone else is straight. I’m very lucky because I am safely out in my household, but not everyone has that option. Even though we’ve got Zoom calls and group chats and social media that allow us to speak with one another, not all of us physically exist in safe spaces whether they be homes, towns, or states.
That said, being away from campus has been a pretty rude reawakening. For some, Arcadia is the only place where they can even be out at all. We’re very lucky because Arcadia is one of the most progressive universities in the area. The student body and the faculty make campus feel safe. We’ve since had to adjust to not having that resource anymore.
So, naturally, when the student body received the news that campus would remain closed for the upcoming semester, I and the rest of the executive board of PRIDE club were really disheartened and disappointed that we would have to wait even longer to see each other again. Last time I wrote about PRIDE club I was the Vice President, and I’ve since changed positions—I’m the President now! This obstacle was not a challenge I planned on taking lightly. Luckily for me, it was a no-brainer to me or the board that we wanted to keep PRIDE active remotely. Even luckier, although we would sorely miss the physical community aspect of the club, the conversion to a virtual club was not so difficult for us to navigate.
We make sure to meet every week as we normally would, at the same time on the same day of the week. We’ve also been getting creative by using technology to our advantage and coming up with new ways to make club meetings enjoyable. For example, one night we hopped on the trend bandwagon and hosted a “PowerPoint Party,” where anyone who wanted to participate could prepare a presentation in advance about any topic of their choosing. If you’ve ever seen PowerPoint Party topics before, you’ll know how ridiculous the topics can get (our night entailed topics including, but not limited to, “Reasons Why Rick from The Walking Dead is the worst character,” “The PRIDE board members as types of cheese,” and “So Mercutio is Queer: Hear Me Out, Guys, Please”)—but that made our club meeting that much more fun. We definitely plan on doing more of those in the future.
Normally many of our meetings are educational, but we have made this semester more relaxed because we’ve observed that what our community needs right now is not just a safe space, but a supportive space to unwind, destress, and connect. This was so important to us this semester in particular because like I mentioned before, for several members of the queer community at Arcadia, Arcadia is their only safe space. PRIDE club was especially comforting because it was a space that existed specifically for us, which is something that many of us don’t have when we aren’t at school.
The PRIDE club executive board is made up of four members, including me. We knew we would have to lean on each other for support a lot this semester, which we absolutely do now more than ever. Even though we all have official titles that account for different tasks, we pitch in as equally as we can. We’re running a club during a tumultuous time in the world, so if one of us is overwhelmed with schoolwork or just in general the others make sure to help where we can, whether it be by doing a certain task, or lending a listening ear and words of encouragement. We’re all good friends and we make sure to support each other where we can, and we make sure to extend that camaraderie to the rest of the club.