Do LGBTQ+ People Belong Here?
Trigger Warning: discusses transphobic and homophobic incidents
What is it like being LGBTQ+ at Mount St. Mary’s University? Before I begin, I want to say that I do not speak for every LGBTQ+ person on campus. Some people might have a better experience, some might have a worse experience. I am not transgender or non-binary, therefore I do not know what housing and classes are like for those who are.
Despite the Mount being a liberal arts school, I can’t help but feel like I’m constantly trying to defend my existence as a woman, a person with a disability and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, especially the latter.
Recently, a fellow classmate used the word “queer” in a deterogatory way. I froze and couldn’t bring myself to call them out on it. There are so many other words to use that mean “weird,” yet people still use this word.
There are people in the LGBTQ+ community who use “queer” to describe their identity. People use this word because having to constantly come out gets tiresome and confusing. On top of that, for many people, gender and sexuality are fluid, which has different meanings for different people. Hearing a classmate use my identity as a word synonymous with “weird” sent a flood of memories and emotions coursing through my mind.
This wasn’t an isolated incident from a single student. I have heard professors blatantly spew transphobic and homophobic things in the middle of class without hesitation or apology to any students they might have offended or hurt.
What’s annoying is that every time the class discussion shifts to topics regarding the LGBTQ+ community, it always becomes political. Basic human rights shouldn’t be a political pawn. I am a human being. I have the right to marry whom I want, dress how I want and be who I am without fear of being thrown into conversion therapy or attacked. I shouldn’t have to defend my right to exist to fellow students, let alone professors and other faculty members.
If being raised Catholic has taught me anything, it’s that using your religious beliefs to justify being homophobic and transphobic is not what Jesus wanted. He said “Treat others how you want to be treated.” If this is true, a lot of people on campus must want to be called derogatory things and treated like they don’t exist.
In the last couple years, the Mount has been advertising to minority students and employees that they “belong here,” which would be a nice sentiment if it practiced what it preached. When I was touring schools back in 2018, I was elated to see that Gettysburg College had an LGBTQ+ house. I was disappointed to see that the Mount still did not have one. How are they supposed to look their students in the eye and say they belong here when there aren’t any LGBTQ+ safe spaces sponsored by the Mount?