Queer Fear at CMC: On an Incident in Stark Hall

By: Lisette Espinosa | Feb 21, 2013 | 402 Views Opinion |

I didn’t expect the hate—especially not in CMC’s Stark Hall.

It seemed as if someone had been specifically targeting the LGBT posters ever since they went up, ripping them and flipping them over so their contents weren’t visible. The other posters looked in good shape. On Friday, February 8, someone wrote an ignorant comment on a Spectrum poster depicting what appeared to be a male with red fingernails: “Your [sic] a man, act like it.”

“Your [sic] a man, act like it” is written on this Spectrum party poster.

Who would expect LGBT hate here at the Claremont Colleges? Most 5C students might agree that this occurrence is less unexpected at Claremont McKenna College.

While exploring online forums about CMC before admittance, I remember reading a thread about CMC being the least LGBT-friendly campus at the Claremont Colleges. However, I soon brushed it off when I “prospied” and my host mentioned a male friend’s latest guy crush.

Taking classes at the Keck Science Department and interacting with non-CMC students, I could see more active support of the queer community and gender-based issues from the other colleges, including more lectures, social events, and conversations about these topics. Of course, this does not mean CMC does not offer support for other social issues; we are just particularly deficient in LGBT support. The Athenaeum celebrates the “Spectrum of Leadership” by inviting speakers like Dan Savage and Tony Kushner, but is the student body as inviting?

Claremont McKenna has only one not-so-large club, the Alliance for Queer Appreciation and Understanding (AQUA), that supports the campus’s LBGT community. The existence of off-campus 5C resources like the Queer Resource Center does not mean that the CMC campus is as supportive.

Is our community not supportive enough to deter unacceptable behavior like the vandalism of LGBT posters? While it is impossible to convince every person on this planet to stop spreading hate, we can seek to foster an environment in which no one will think this kind of thing is acceptable here at CMC.

The LGBT community in the U.S. has made significant headway, gaining the right to marry by popular vote in Maine, Maryland, and Washington this past election. But with progress comes backlash. There is staunch resistance against the gay community. There is hate. But at least on our campuses we can create an understanding home for our students.

I urge the CMC student body to support our LGBT community and AQUA by attending events and participating in Ally Week in April. Show these people that hate is not what CMC is about.

Viva CMC. Viva a supportive community.

AQUA meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Auen Hall lounge. There will be a Queer and Ally Social 1-4 p.m. in C-Hall this Saturday, February 22.

About the Author

  • deechookz

    The questions you posed are pretty optimistic. Spreading the love always seems like a good idea; I just hope other people can see that, too.

  • Stag

    Thank you for writing this. Nice piece overall, but as a writer who shows talent, you should try to avoid weasel words.

    “Most 5C students might agree that this occurrence is less unexpected at Claremont McKenna College.”

    Don’t do that. Quote a source, or don’t say it.

    • bah

      Maybe she doesn’t feel like quoting specific people, because they might receive negative attention. I don’t know if it’s just me and Lisette, but I do agree that it seems less unexpected at CMC. So there you go!

      • 2012

        even an anonymous quote, protecting the speaker from negative attention, is better than the reporter speculating/editorializing.

        but i agree this is a good piece overall.

        • 2012

          that said, from my 4 years, there really is no question that cmc and our students are somewhat less actively supportive of non-heterosexuals than at Scripps and Pitzer. But CMC is still a very tolerant place by any reasonable standard, isolated incidents aside.

  • 5C Student

    Thanks for writing this article.

    I’d like to point out thought that the hate in this incident seems to specifically target the gender non- conforming and the larger trans* community much more than the gay community.

    My solidarity and support go to the student who experienced this hate.

  • FormerStarkie

    Oh, give me a break. People deface things all the time on college campuses. Who cares?

    • m

      The people who it targets. This is not just “unpleasant”, this is queer-phobia and is hateful. The individual in the picture is expressing their self and their identity. If it was a picture of an individual who appeared female but cut their hair short or dressed in traditionally “male” clothing and the comment said “You’re a woman, act like it” I’m sure the general reaction would be much more furious.

    • Blue

      It’s not just drawing dicks on the poster, which while defacing and somewhat immature, wouldn’t be nearly the same. This is an attempt by the person who did it to make the person on the poster (a good friend of mine I might add)and others who identify similarly feel unsafe or unwelcome on campus.

    • Shriya

      It’s one thing to deface things in general, and it’s another thing to target individuals.

      “It seemed as if someone had been specifically targeting the LGBT posters
      ever since they went up, ripping them and flipping them over so their
      contents weren’t visible. The other posters looked in good shape.”

      The fact that the “other posters looked in good shape,” seems to indicate the fact that there was targeted and ornery intent behind these actions. If it were defaced among all other posters – which still isn’t acceptable behavior – this wouldn’t be a conversation about respect for a certain group of people. It would be about respect for objects and CMC property in general.

  • Gay CMCer

    Great job! :)

  • Lisette

    The Queer and Ally Social is actually FRIDAY, February 22. Sorry!

  • CMC senior

    CMC does have a reputation on the 5-C’s for being the least queer friendly campus so while somebody may have done this as a joke, or without knowing what Spectrum was, it still sends a message to people in our community who are apart of the queer community that they are not exactly welcomed with open arms here.