Spectrum celebrates LGBTQ History Month with events and video project
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 04:10
Spectrum, the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services, the Office of Intercultural Education, Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and several other campus offices and organizations celebrated LGBTQ History month by sponsoring several events throughout what the queer community may dub “Gaytober.”
The events included lectures such as Dr. Rev. Patrick Cheng’s “Rainbow Theology” and Amy Hoffman’s “Do Tell: Reclaiming LGBTQ History for the LGBT Movement.”
Spectrum also hosted a Rainbow Fiesta mixer, the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services held a reception for LGBTQ faculty and the CWS organized a workshop on the job and internship search as an LGBTQ student.
The queer and questioning support group’s weekly meetings began in October as well. The group, led by Director of Programs and Services and Advisor to LGBTQ students Leah Fygetakis and Residential Life Area Coordinator Meghan Todd, allows queer and questioning students a supportive space for discussion.
In her lecture, Amy Hoffman, a researcher with WCW, explained the importance of LGBTQ History Month as a means of celebrating history and culture which is not passed down by families and communities as it is for other identity-based movements.
“Since LGBT[Q] history, unlike the histories of other subcultural groups could not be passed down from generation to generation, we had to keep rediscovering it,” Hoffman said. “Pulp fiction...[and] lesbian publications like The Ladder, these were hidden deep, deep underground.”
Referring to examples of lesbian literature, she said, “These were more than books to us. They helped us to reinterpret ourselves and understand where we’d come from.”
National LGBTQ History Month began in 1994. Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson along with his colleagues and community leaders chose October as LGBTQ History Month because school is in session and other traditions, like National Coming Out Day, are also held in October. Wellesley College itself has participated in LGBTQ History Month since 1994, and Dyke Ball was founded in 1993.
“I would say that was the beginning of the queer community trying to become more visible on Wellesley’s campus,” Spectrum President Leah Way ’13 said.
Since then, the queer community has grown.
“From surveys that I’ve seen, about 22 percent of our student population identifies someplace under the LGBTQ spectrum. That is a much higher proportion than what you would expect to see,” Fygetakis said. “The often quoted statistic is that 10 percent of the population is gay. More recently, there was a national survey that was done and it was around three percent. So that just gives you some comparison that we are by far well-represented. It’s a substantial amount of students who identify under the spectrum.”
Aside from Wellesley’s strong academics, Fygetakis speculates that Wellesley attracts such a high population because it addresses setbacks that marginalized communities have faced, and because of the College’s safe environment.
In the past, when Wellesley students communicated through threads of conversation called “Community” through the email platform FirstClass, students responded to a thread stating “I love my LGBTQ siblings because…” This thread, now on the “Community” Google Group, is much smaller today, since it is not as easy to read and update.
Student Multicultural Affairs Coordinator and Diversity Committee President Meredyth Grange ’13 has been putting together a montage of video clips called “I love my LGBTQ sibs because...” in which people state the reasons they support the LGBTQ community at Wellesley.
“[The thread] would continue for a hundred emails. People would say ‘because we all depend on each other...because love is love is love, because they gave me the courage to come out to myself,’” Grange stated in a YouTube video, asking for clips.
Grange also hopesthat the video will reach prospective students looking for support at the college campuses they visit.
“What is really great is that because it’s a video version, not only is it able to offer love and support for our community members here but also to prospective students coming in [who want] to know if there are going to be people who will who love and support them no matter how they identify,” she said.
The video will be released in early November.