As I’ve talked about before in this column, the initialism LGBT makes my skin crawl. But know what makes my skin crawl more? The fact that Sarah Lawrence has no queer space.
There’s no designated space on our campus for queer students to seek resources, community, or relaxation time in a place where they know that no one will perform symbolic violence upon their identities. We have mobile, temporary safe spaces on campus in the forms of Trans Action or Queer Voice Coalition meetings, but those don’t meet the needs that a queer space would.
The identity groups exist to organize, and there is a difference between organization and community. To organize is to work in an activist context towards decreasing marginalization. To build community is to make space for healing, for relationship building, for recovery from bigoted abuse. In a queer space we’d be able to throw events that focused on the building of community instead of organization.
I want a table I can sit around with my fellow SLC queers, eat some Pub food with them, talk with them, and know that I am safe. I will know I am safe in a queer space when straight SLC folks know that they can only enter the space if they have done their ally work.
We’ve lobbied around this issue before, and we’ve never succeeded. We’ve asked for the basement of Tweed, because the basement of Tweed is empty. I’ve visited. There’s a desk, some bookshelves, and some books. We’ve been told that the space is being “used for storage.” Excuse me? The desk and bookshelves could be incorporated into a queer space. As for the books, there are other bookshelves on campus, and I have faith in our ability as members of the Sarah Lawrence community to move books from one set of shelves to another.
What would this space be? What would it have in it? Bookshelves. Tables for projects. Chairs. Couches. A board for writing on. Art on the walls. Pamphlets and resource lists about queer resources in the area–the Loft in Yonkers, Callen Lorde and the Center in the city–that Sarah Lawrence community members need.
How hard can it be?