12 November 2019
This open letter is regarding the Scribe article, “Voices of UCCS: Queer culture” by Caitlyn Dieckmann on 15 October 2019. After I read this article I found myself suddenly feeling not that good. I was excited to see my identity represented but was disappointed to see it represented so poorly. Not sure if I was just being too sensitive, I went to others in my community to see how they felt. We all felt weird about it, the interviewees were asked questions about what the word queer meant to them, without providing the readers with a good comprehensive answer. Additionally interviewees chose they/them pronouns to relate to the queer community instead of we/us, making it difficult to judge whether or not the queer culture was even captured in the article. So with that I would like to reach out to say I’m queer and here to try to better share what that feels like at UCCS.
The word queer can be more aptly defined than the previous response of same-sex attraction or slur to avoid. The word queer is a part of my identity, like it is a part of many others. The most basic definition I can provide defines queer as an umbrella term for anybody who is not straight or cisgender. My definition, however, is so much more. It’s the part of me that says, “The world says you are different but you are simply you.” It’s the part of me that taught me how to love for those who hate me and how to care for myself when I hate myself as well. It’s the word I find refuge in after the world tells me I do not belong because of the prescribed notions of my gender and sexuality. To reduce such a large meaning to “Same-sex attraction” is largely disrespectful and disappointing to see in print. Similarly, queer culture and community than a place I feel safe. It’s how I’m able to grow and discover myself more fully. It’s where I’m able to feel accepted after a day of struggling. This culture is largely hidden to the public. It’s strange walking past 100 students and knowing the statistics. Five of those kids are LGBT. One of those kids is trans. Half of us are suicidal. Which kids are like me? I don’t see the pride and joy of being queer around campus very often. Spaces like the Mosaic become critical in fighting off the loneliness. The Mosaic office provides me with the visibility and safety I need as a queer person. It helped me find other queer people and just know that somebody here on campus cares about me, even after a day of overhearing queerphobic trash from my fellow students. And the best way you can support us, is to not treat us just like you want to be treated, but to listen to our voice and give us the same respect you wish to receive. Our queer culture in the US is strong but it is under constant attack. It will require strong social, political and personal work in order to achieve full human rights. But until then, simply showing kindness is the best one can do.
Xander Beem, Undecided major, transfer student