Empowered to Create Change: Being an LGBTQ Student

I am an LGBTQ student. LGBTQ means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. Here at Syracuse University I feel lucky. I have the basic privilege of being open about my sexuality. I spend many hours taking courses about queer sexuality, studying sex and gender theory and really exploring the world of social identities. This is an area of academic interest for me, but it’s so much more. It’s personal. It’s my life.

Recently, I went to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference. To say it was one of the greatest experiences of my life seems cliché, but it is very much true. For four whole days I was allowed to feel like myself, to be myself, knowing that I would not be judged or discriminated against because of my sexual identity. It was also a great opportunity to meet other LGBTQ students from all over the country and talking with them made me realize how privileged I actually am.

I don’t mean this just in terms of identity, but also the resources that Syracuse University has to offer that many other schools are still working to get. At Syracuse University we have an LGBTQ academic program, an anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, gender neutral housing, an LGBT living community, an LGBT resource center with multiple paid staff members, and numerous student organizations. When I told this to other students at the conference, many were surprised at how much my school had to offer.

Many students at the conference had resource centers or queer studies programs, but few had their university’s financial backing for these resources. Gender-neutral housing is another area where universities struggle to make progress. Looking back, I have to remind myself that the very fact that these students were present representing their schools, means a great deal. With travel costs and conference fees, the dollars added up quickly. Most of the students at Creating Change had been partially if not fully funded for the trip through their universities. This is a privilege that LGBTQ students at most universities did not have.

This is definitely not to say Syracuse is perfect. More than one of my friends has been physically and verbally assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our campus also lacks in the field of gender-neutral restrooms, and more than one of my professors has targeted me because of my sexual orientation. There continue to be places on campus where I am both physically and emotionally uncomfortable and yet this discomfort is never addressed.

For the most part here at SU, I am happy. I have found a queer community willing to discuss politics and theory, and although LGBTQ-friendly social spaces are limited in the area, I still find ways to have some good queer fun. Most importantly for me, here at Syracuse University I have been given the tools and opportunity I need to work toward drastic social and political change.

And that’s important to me because discrimination and oppression are very real, and not just for the LGBTQ community. I feel this on a daily basis because it has been embedded into American society. Here at Syracuse University we can continue trying to improve our campus climate, but it’s hard to feel as though we have made real progress without any true societal change.

28 comments

  1. I can’t imagine spending my life and my precious time on the things you find to be important. I feel sorry for you. You are caught up in a political/sexual frenzy that has no relation to real life. Why don’t you focus on something other than the fact that you like to have sex with your own gender and maybe do something worthwhile in the short time you have on this planet. I am straight and I just couldn’t imagine spending my life studying and obsessing on the fact that I am straight…how stupid.

    1. We welcome debate and discussion of ideas on this blog, and ask in return only that you show respect for our bloggers. Remember that all our bloggers are teenagers or young adults, and in my opinion they display maturity, intelligence and bravery beyond their years in their writing and their willingness to expose their own lives in order to help others. I hope we can all agree that that even if you don’t like their lifestyles or opinions, we can at least respect that.

    2. Of course you can’t imagine her life, because you are STRAIGHT and ignorant. Oppression takes many forms. I feel sorry for you and your blinkered existence. And you talk down on LGBTQ people. Pity.

  2. Unfortunately, for those with privileged identities it is often difficult to see why these issues are important. My studies don’t have much to do with who I personally decide to sleep with, but do have a lot to do with the oppressions that LGBTQ people face, along with oppression based on other identities such as race, gender, religion, dis/ability, etc. We are socialized in a heterosexist culture so although you may not have actively sought out knowledge about your heterosexual identity, you have been educated about heterosexuality your whole life.

  3. I am a Mexican American woman so I belong to two of the oppressed identities you mention above. My identities are different from yours in a few important ways. First, I did not choose to be either Mexican or a woman. Secondly, being Mexican and being female do not break any natural laws. Thirdly, being Mexican and female do not break any moral laws. To many people like me, gays are percieved to be people who choose to live an aberrant lifestyle that breaks age-old societal taboos and then expect us to not only tolerate it but have it be an accepted part of our culture. This we will never do because to do so would be to make normal that which is not and to thereby pervert the natural course of human history. I am sorry that you have chosen the course you have chosen and I truly feel that you are wasting your time because you all the “gender studies” classes in the world cannot make straight that which is crooked. I say this not to disrespect you but to tell you the truth.

  4. Dee, you’re a heterosexual mexican woman who, so you say, could care less about sexuality. yet you’ve taken the time to make, not one, but two successive posts about someone else’s sexuality. i suggest that it is you who needs to get back in touch with real life. live and let live. please just leave other people alone, they don’t care what you think.

  5. wow, Jaime!
    One of the greatest problems humanity has faced is failure to subject the human renaissance in every field to the ultimate Divine Law! I wonder why USA- “should have the motto-“IN GOD WE TRUST”; with all the greatness of USA and the country position in the advocacy for peaceful planet; campaign for a world that harbors life for every race! Lincoln stood for this and slavery bills Kansas-Nebraska Bill in his time ended! This motto amidst the so called liberalism- USA citizens honor this motto!
    I fail to understand how someone comes out and believes God does not exist; and chooses to lead his/her life his/her own way!
    Jaime, you deserve a better life that God created you for! Look around you and see; how many children worldwide are suffering-hunger, no shelter, basic health care, how many mothers are dying daily because of poor health care attention in their countries, look at the threatening rampant population growth rates, that calls for youth to think strategically for those youths coming after us generations to come!
    I doubt if any of you and those supporting you, who have been born not by nature, but a mother and a dad! And here you lie to yourselves to this extent! please, find better worldwide concerns to advocate for my sister!
    This is bitter truth, you have a mum and a dad, if they were what you are deciding, you would not be here!
    TO EVERYONE, GOD IS FAITHFUL TO YOU AND ME,while dying in our sinfulness lives, He sent His son onto the Cross to pay the price/ransom for me and you! Without God,you and me are dead! The devil is working, but God is everything! Come back to God and see His amazing plans for your life or else wait to suffer Hell for life or choose life through acknowledging Him as God in your life.
    I love you and God loves you more, those who care about your true welfare will tell you at all times the truth!
    “Doing the right thing when it is not popular or when it is not going to get everyone’s approval is not always easy, but if we really care, we would go ahead and take the risk anyway.” Ben Carson.
    think about your life and respect mummy and dad, and if none, at least your country- IN GOD WE TRUST
    thank you

  6. In response to Dee’s first comment, saying gay men and women should not spend their days studying, researching or trying to understand a certain lifestyle better is similar to saying that women during the Women’s Civil Right’s Movement or blacks during the Civil Right’s Movement shouldn’t have fought for what they believed in because white men didn’t. As a woman I am sure you greatly appreciate the fact that they fought for that, it has considerably changed what your lifestyle is now compared to what it could have been. So, of course, gay men and women try to delve deeper into this area, it is something precious to them as I am sure your rights are precious to you.
    In response to Jenna, religion is something very personal, if you did not feel comfortable reading this article that is understandable, but trying to force your beliefs on other people is not what Jaime did, it is what you did. After all, aren’t you not allowed to pass judgment (as a religious individual)? Is that not meant for God?
    Bravo Jaime, it is an extremely well written article, good luck in everything you do, your SIWJ friend.

  7. Dee- who gets to decide “natural laws”? Who gets to decide “moral laws”? I suspect you might say the Bible, to which I would reply with kindly @$!% off. It’s amazing to me how few Christians comprehend that not everyone shares their religious beliefs–or even that not all Christians believe that every word of the Bible should be taken literally. The Bible is belief, not law. There is nothing unnatural about LGBT individuals. Indeed, homosexuality has been documented in pretty much every human culture ever studied throughout history, including Ancient Greece. Deal with it.

  8. Jenna, nowhere in your blithering diatribe about God did you make a cohesive point. Humans wrote the bible, it is not God’s words, it’s a biased human’s interpretation of God’s words.

  9. As a LGBTQ student at a campus less accommodating than Syracuse, I’m happy to see that other schools are so LGBTQ friendly. Without such efforts, we will never see progress. People like Jaime are helping to make the world a more accepting place.

  10. I see no mention of God in the article, so why are people so concerned with religion? I am a Christian and in no way has my sexual orientation had a negative or sinful effect on how I treat the people around me. But sadly, it does effect how others treat me. This is about sexual identity and as such doesn’t inherently concern religion, but self and societal acceptance/acknowledgment.

    I think it’s great that your school has such programs and courses and hopefully this can encourage other universities to begin looking into adding them to their curriculum and campuses. Hopefully such courses can enlighten some of the more ignorant and uninformed responses to this article.

  11. i totally love this, yet hate the ignorant comments from people. the thing that bothers me besides all the ignorant comments is that in Dees second comment she says “First, I did not choose to be either Mexican or a woman.”

    okay, well for one i can tell you i did not choose to be attracted to both male and females. for the longest time i hated myself for it because of people like you. i’ve known since i can remember that i liked both sexes. what makes you think a 4 year old ‘chooses’ to have a crush on another girl?

    so at 4 i was a pervert? no i was a very sheltered child, i was and still am not a pervert, im am now a 17 year old senior in high school girl who has not once tried to force myself on any sex, im a pervert? im pretty sure im a virgin and if i was a perv i’d be sure that i wasn’t one. so before you try to tell me im a perv watch the news and see the rapists and child molesters that are out in the world these days and please tell me im still a pervert.

    your telling me at 4 i broke natural laws? that im breaking moral laws? morals are right from wrong. how can it be wrong for me to feel something? how can it be wrong to find love that you may find with a man someday (if he is as narrow minded as you.)
    your telling me if you had a son or daughter you would hate them if they were gay? don’t tell me they never would be because you cannot choose that outcome, no one can. you are not god or whomever you believe in.

    as someone who is not out to her family because of the hate my mother has for gays, it causes me to not have an open relationship with her. she’s caused me so much pain by her opinions on things. she’s as much as a bigot as you. so when you have a son or daughter and they come out gay or straight, god bless them because they will have to deal with your narrow minded self.

    please tell me why you chose to be straight. oh you can’t? BECAUSE you cant choose how your born. i’m sick of this hatred in the world. you say people can’t hate you cause your a mexican girl? yeah news flash hunny there are plenty of racist people out there who think otherwise. so when you get hated and bashed because you were simply born a simple way.

    i used to be so ashamed of who i am, but as i grow up i realize i was born this way for a reason and being ashamed is letting bigots win and basically being one.

    ohsogleeful.tumblr.com

  12. In today’s society where gender inequality still exists and strides in LGBTQ rights are just beginning, it is so important for students to have opportunities to learn about these social identities.

    Straight people have the luxury of not feeling the need to “obsess” over their sexuality. This is because we live in a heteronormative society where straight couples are afforded rights that gay couples do not have. Heterosexual people are not typically judged or discriminated against for their sexual identity. They have the right to marry whom ever they please. And their lifestyle is considered “normal”.

    Queer theory studies are so important to the LGBTQ community. We face judgement everyday for our sexual identity. We aren’t afforded the same basic rights. And our lifestyles are branded as “alternative” just because of our sexual orientation.

  13. kyle and colleagues, sorry for you if you believe nature created you! better think through yourself well!!! But if Abraham Lincoln whom every American knows of has often been quoted addressing crowds quoting scriptures!
    Bill Clinton said, “there is nothing wrong with america that can not be cured by what is right with America!”
    i agree with you,, that is the trend you think in your mind! Hell will catch up with you for life suffering then will you know that God is the source of the Universe!!!!
    Gayzm and the like is against the Divine right of humanity; you have chosen to be corrupted by the human discoveries; than know why you are live and someone died at birth!!!!
    IF YOU RESIST THE BIBLE, HOW COME ITS THE ONLY BOOK THAT HAS STOOD AND WILL STAND GENERATIONS; GOD’S INSPIRED WORD!!!
    I BESEECH YOU, TO READ ROMANS 1:1FF AND YOU WILL GET YOUR EYES BEGIN TO OPEN
    I LOVE YOU ALL AND GOD LOVES YOU MORE!
    STOP THE HELL DESTRUCTION END AND RETURN TO GOD YOUR MAKER

  14. FRUSTRATION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TRUTH!!!! IF SOMETHING IS WRONG, IT IS WRONG!!!
    SORRY FOR YOU, WE HATE YOU NOT-WE LOVE YOU ALL AND THE REASON WE CAN TELL YOU THE TRUTH! GOD HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MORALS; HE REMAINS GOD, HE KNOWS NO RELIGION- HE ONLY KNOWS JESUS CHRIST, ONLY HIM DID HE SEND TO REDEEM US FROM THE SIN YOU HAVE MARRIED YOURSELVES TOO!!!
    AND YOUR PARENTS DO NOT/MUST NOT BE GOOD TO YOU TO BE YOUR PARENTS, YOUR OBLIGATION TO THEM HANDED DOWN FROM GOD HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING THE BEST PARENTS TO YOU!
    BUT IN ALL THINGS, AM PRAYING FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU, AND I SET A DEADLINE THAT BY SEPTEMBER 16TH, ALL OF YOU HERE WILL HAVE BECOME DELIVERED!!!

  15. hey jenna, calm down and breathe. i’m straight, married, with a beutiful baby daughter. i choose not to hate because the bible tells me to “love thy neighbor” there is no disclaimer in the bible saying “harass gay people on the internet in the name of God.” sorry but there’s a few lines here and there in the bible written by biased humans condemning homosexuality but you’re missing the bigger point of the whole holy book. love thy neighbor. treat others as you would like to be treated. God didn’t annoint you as the punisher, that is his role and with you trying to condemn those around you and judge them before God does, you are usurping his power and taking a false god. you ma’am are the biggest sinner here and it’s not even close.

  16. I love that Kyle,
    wow, I am sure the bible does not call us to yoke with none believers; I mean not to encourage them to do the wrong thing; thought it charges to love them and hate the sin in them!!!
    I wonder where you lie now! But if for real, you are married and even have children, think more than you can contain about your path being taken!!!
    Am not a judge but God is! John 3:17-18;
    otherwise,thank you for such a profound submission!
    we are called to calla spade, a spade and not a spoon!
    Loving a sinner in such a sense, does not mean I should love the vices in them as well! I should be of value to help someone see the truth; this has nothing to do with liberalism, or studies; there are better studies Humanity needs to focus on-how to better our environment and not to pollute it!
    This is another form of slavery,which needs a Liberator like the rising of Lincoln to white house saw the abolition of slavery ground laid!
    ha ha,
    Kyle, you and me have a role to play to help our brothers and sisters live fulfilled life God planned for them and not to confuse them around with gossip support!!!
    well, you are entitled to your choice of decision!!

  17. okay. only god can judge me. and when my day comes for him to judge me he won’t turn me away because i found love. because i assure you im a good person. and thats what counts, its about what you do in life that matters, not who you fall inlove with.
    god loves his children. ive taken ccd for 7 years of my life. i know he wouldn’t turn his back on me because of love. because its not evil or wrong.

  18. Maybe we’re not reading the same bible. The Jesus I believe in preached love and acceptance, not hate and judgment.

    1 Corinthians 13:13
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
    1 Peter 4:8
    Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
    Colossians 3:14
    And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
    1 John 4:8
    Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
    1 John 4:7-12
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    John 6:37
    All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

  19. I finally get it. Wow-how can you judge someone like this?
    As they say people who live in glass houses…
    Our daughter Jaime is a wonderful person and very passionate about many things that are important to her.I never really understood why she had turned away from religion but now I understand. People like you!!!
    Good luck when you meet your maker.

  20. As Jaime’s best friend, I am incredibly proud of her. Its sad that there are people who feel the need to write such comments targeting her and her parents. Knowing Jaime’s parents, I know Jaime was raised with strong christian values. Its just sad that people preach hate. It makes people like myself and Jaime reluctant to embrace religion.

  21. WOW! I have read and embraced your sermons!
    I am not a judge-emphasis But God, through Jesus Christ, we are children of God and we are therefore, entitled to Kingdom habitat!
    Prov.8:17, I love them that love me and those that seek me early shall find me!!!
    Jaime, am not against you in anyway, but your status as a gay is not right be4 God and this is conclusive-Jesus came for us all to be reconciled to our Father! read the bible in entirety and see Romans 1:1ff and see what it talks about!!!
    otherwise, I know what God has created me for, to be the light and the salt by focusing of things above (colossians 3:1ff and living for Him by living the word life!
    You are again entitled to make your own choice with family and friends!!!
    stay blessed and have a good life Jaime!!!
    thanks all for such incites of what age of the time we are in!

  22. JAIME – LOVE THE ARTICLE. YOUR WORK ON HERE IS ALWAYS FANTASTICALLY ENLIGHTENING.

    P.S.
    I TYPE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT MAKES EVERYTHING I SAY SEEM MORE AUTHORITATIVE AND, THEREFORE, OBVIOUSLY CORRECT. ONE LESSON LEARNED FROM KABAALE JENNA..

    P.P.S.
    I’M IGNORING THE OVER ABUNDANCE OF EXCLAMATION POINTS. THOUGH THEY SURELY MUST HELP RELIGIOUS FANATICS.

  23. Those of you who claim to be Christians and don’t even know what is unconditional love that our basic and fundamental faith of being a Christian. Quoting bible only to defend your personal opinion or use religion as a tool to attack people. Wars about religious conflict are not enough in the history? Or should I pretend I was a Muslim which believes all the women should cover there faces?

    I almost forgot to mention that you women were not even allowed to talk, or if you wish you can find justification from bible for slavery, too.

    “People enthused about denying civil rights to homosexuals in the United States almost always cite the prohibition of homosexual sex in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. But these same people almost never feel bound by the other prohibitions in Leviticus, such as those that forbid tattoos, earrings, waring more than one kind of cloth at the same time, seeing a naked menstruating woman, or touching the skin of a pig, all the which are condemned in exactly the same manner as the practice of men lying with men. Furthermore, these same people almost never support the death penalty for disobedient children, prostitutes (by burning to death), blasphemers, and those who have a ghost or spirit familiar, even thou these too are commanded by the author of Leviticus.”

    I feel sick for those who don’t even know what is God love and use his name to criticize his fellow people, especially international foreign students. How could God even make you.

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