“Club Pulse, Dancers, Victims … CAGED PEOPLE/SCREAMERS, Extras needed trying to escape a cage! … SOUNDS INTERESTING? COME OUT THIS SATURDAY!!!”
Tyrone Tappler Productions posted this advertisement on August 31st on Facebook in an attempt to get volunteers that would depict the Pulse shootings in a haunted house. Fernwood Elementary School in Chicago was set to house the event until they pulled the plug on October 28th, one day before it was to open. Hearing about this event may make one wary of Chicago and the city’s attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, but you don’t have to look farther than Saint Norbert College to see examples everyday of homophobia and heteronormativity. While the campus has a multicultural center and the women and gender studies program there is a lack of resources for LGBTQ+ students. If a student is struggling with their identity they have no full or part time staff member to contact, minimal programming and no permanent physical location that the college staffs as a safe space. There is a room that has been allotted to Rainbow Alliance, but the room serves merely as a meeting location at this time because of a lack of resources.
Programming of LGBTQ+ topics on this campus relies heavily on students to plan events. In addition to their academic work, if students wish to ensure the campus is provided with educational opportunities, they must organize for it to happen. These educational opportunities are lacking not only outside academic study but also within it. I have discussed topics regarding race in many classes during my time at SNC (which is important!), but have only talked about LGBTQ+ topics twice. In both cases they were brushed over with a short time spent on the topic, followed by an assignment in which one COULD choose to explore them further but was not required to. Topics of sexuality should be brought up in their own right, but also discussed regularly along with race, gender, and class to acknowledge the intersectionality between them. The lack of representation of these diverse groups in curriculum leads students to feel marginalized by the college and like their voices don’t matter.
On top of these institutional problems there are many interpersonal interactions that have me personally feel uncomfortable being queer on campus. These include: Hearing homophobic slurs on campus as well as in my residence hall while moving in, having peers assume they can ask me about sexual practices because they ‘want to know how it works’, professors asking me to speak on behalf of LGBTQ+ people, constantly being asked if I have a girlfriend, people staring when I walk across campus holding my boyfriend’s hand, being told I talk too much about being gay and students approaching the Rainbow Alliance booth at involvement fair as a joke. These individual acts may not seem extremely harmful, and on their own they would be just nuisances. When they continuously happen though, they slowly invalidate my experience as a human being, reducing me to my sexuality.
That was a lot of negativity, and chances are you either got defensive reading that or you feel guilty. Please take time to think about what I have said and why I feel the need to proclaim my thoughts publicly. If you feel guilty… don’t! The purpose of this is not to make you feel bad, rather to make you aware so you can combat this. I do acknowledge that the campus is making efforts to improve, such as releasing its Cor Unum statement in which the college states we ”journey toward God moved by one heart and mind.” Despite its attempts to improve, however, there are ways in which SNC lags behind other institutions of higher learning. How can you help push SNC towards its goal of inclusivity? Contact the administration and let them know that you think an LGBTQ+ resource center would benefit this campus, attend a Rainbow Alliance meeting (Wednesdays, PAC 207, 8-9 PM), stand up against homophobic jokes, and talk about these issues in your classes and with friends. Let’s make sure SNC is a place where we let everyone know that all people are valued equally and step above those like Tyrone Tappler Productions.
-Broderick Lemke ’18