The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Not so fast, LGBTQ student says

I am queer. I. Am. Queer. It’s as simple as that. I am a man that is attracted to men, sexually, romantically, intellectually, and etc. My gender identity is masculine, meaning I use masculine associated pronouns: “he, him, his.” My gender performance on the other hand is more ambiguous: for example, I like to wear make-up sometimes, and strictly speaking, I frequently act in a manner that is not strictly part of the hegemonic definition of male, often performing in a manner associated with either feminine or non-masculine ideals. But why am I telling you this?

I want you to know where I’m coming from, the point from which I write, and the perspective I hope to offer. And more specifically, I wish to state that the LGBTQ community is not, as Michael Graves puts it in his past article, “just here.” In fact, the Queer is typically never “just here.” And just because we’re off some list does not necessarily mean that the climate here has radically changed for the better.

Progress is rarely, if ever, linear and history certainly proves that social change seldom follows a positive trajectory. The notion that SMU is accepting and has such an inclusive and welcoming culture is flawed and idealistic. Currently at SMU, gender identity and expression are things that are still not included in the nondiscrimination policy, there is no standing committee or chair (on any level of the institution) that is geared toward LGBTQ issues, gender neutral bathrooms are scarce, and let’s not forget the countless students that are in hiding in fear that they will be outed and expelled from their organizations and rejected by friends. SMU is taking great steps for future students in terms of policy and education, but there is still deeply entrenched homophobia and as such, we must not make such light assumptions of the complex culture at SMU.

Yes, education and awareness are spreading across campus thanks to departments such as the Women’s Center and the Women’s & Gender Studies, groups like Spectrum and ARC, and our own personal interactions, but we mustn’t confuse the acceptance of our friends or of particular individuals for the thousands that frequent this campus. Mr. Graves seems to make that mistake when speaking of his own experience, but not all of us have had such positive interactions. In assessing the nature of a broad SMU culture, we must keep in check our own biases and privileges-something I believe that Mr. Graves unfortunately does not account for in his article.

What is most egregious is the sweeping generalizations implicit the idea that many LGBT, and especially queer, people (all grouped into the collective as the “gays”) wish to be “normal.” What does that mean? I argue that does not typically suggest just being part of society. More accurately, it’s a destruction of the marginalized individual by the socially dominant majority at the expense of individual identity.

For Mr. Graves to state that SMU is more accepting than it is understood as because he is just “himself,” irrespective of categories such as sexuality or gender. Not all gay, bisexual, or otherwise queer men shoot guns or watch football, and it appears from the article that he may not understand this. He demonstrates an inaccurate understanding of identity politics and the real societal factors that structure daily systemic oppression and prejudice due to factors such as class, race, and gender. Many are not simply “integrating into the community like any other group of people” at SMU-if that were so, SMU would be a near “gay” utopia.

These notions of gender and sexuality (and race, in this case) have formulated my perception and comportment-to pretend that I can be a general member of society and just happen to be queer is impossible. And personally, I revel in that impossibility. I’m not saying that SMU is a breeding ground of bigotry and is antagonistic toward any member that identifies within the LGBTQ community, however we do need to keep such problems in the context when discussing SMU’s culture-we need to be realistic because if we don’t. We will assume that everything is fine and at that point, we will become complacent and those who are suffering, especially in silence, will have no choice but to suffer even more ideas of how queer people should be.

Sam is a junior majoring in anthropology and gender studies. 

More to Discover