Let’s set the scene: It’s a Friday in October. You drag yourself out of bed, put on your coat and haul yourself to the Intercultural Center Auditorium for another Friday morning economics lecture. Eight hours later, you find yourself reentering the Auditorium. This time, the lights are dimmed, the seats are packed, there’s music playing and someone has just drawn a “V” on your forehead with red lipstick. All of a sudden, on the very stage where Carol Rogers just spoke to you about the cyclical rate of unemployment, there are six students performing a choreographed striptease while the opening number of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” begins to play.
This is what a queer student group is capable of. If you ever happen to stumble upon a Facebook invitation to a queer student event, I’ll give you one reason to attend: It exists.
At a 231-year-old institution, it’s easy to feel as if there isn’t a place for you. It’s easy to be discouraged by the history, the establishment and the traditionalism of a place like Georgetown University. The role of queer student groups, though, is to disrupt spaces like these. Working with GU Pride for three years has taught me how to build community in places where community wasn’t before.
Let’s paint another picture: The last time you were in Copley Formal Lounge, you sat among a crowd of distinguished professors and students while one of the most powerful Democrats in the world spoke to you about his time in office. Now, you’re eating waffles and watching a 6-foot-4 drag queen from Baltimore do cartwheels to “Fergalicious” in the exact same room.
Disruption is, and has always been, the way of the queer community. When we feel as though there isn’t space for us, we throw our fists up and demand to be seen. When we feel our needs aren’t being met, we come together to bring justice. When we aren’t having a good time, we put on some of the biggest events in town. After working with GU Pride over my years here, I have learned three primary lessons, and I have done my very best to carry them into each and every event we’ve thrown over the past few years.
First, there is room for everyone. If you stop by GU Pride’s table at CAB Fair and grab a sticker, you’ll find our slogan printed nicely and neatly beneath our logo: “The LGBTQ+ and Ally Students of Georgetown.” No matter what event we are throwing, every single student is welcome, regardless of identity. Come to our events with an open mind and a willingness to learn and we will show you what it’s like to be a part of the greatest community on this campus. Plus, nobody throws a party like the queer community. You’d probably be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t show up.
Second, there is no one way to celebrate your identity. As a community-building organization, GU Pride’s duty is to build programming for the needs of every single queer person at this school. Everyone has a different view of their community and everyone is looking for something different out of our organization. No person or idea can get left behind.
To accomplish such inclusion, our events calendar runs an extraordinarily wide gamut. When we need to meet up for a night of dancing, we throw a social. When we want to put our loudest, most vibrant selves on display, we put on “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or a drag brunch. When we are proud of our community, we host a Coming Out Day celebration. When we are not proud, we hold discussions or host guest speakers. And finally, when we are vulnerable and need each other’s shoulders to lean on, we host vigils in Red Square. No matter who you are and no matter your opinion on the queer community here, it is GU Pride’s mission to help you find what you are looking for.
Finally, I have learned there is no such thing as “queer enough.” Try to imagine the experiences of every single queer person attending our school. Some of us have been out since age 13, while others are just beginning to scratch the surface of our sexual orientations or gender identities. There is no prerequisite or requirement for being a queer person. There is no five-hour Saturday class that can show you how to vogue or how to properly enjoy “ARTPOP.” The point of queer student groups is to celebrate individuality and the differences we all bring to the table. At GU Pride events, all are made to feel at home.
So next time you pass through Red Square, take a closer look at the posters hanging up under the arch. Look for the next GU Pride event, the next Queer People of Color event or the next LGBTQ+ Mentors & Resources event. Come see what we’re about, and I promise you’ll learn what it means to be a part of something that’s truly bigger than yourself. Needless to say, you’ll also have a hell of a time while you’re at it.
Andrew Molinari is a junior in the College. Queering the Narrative appears online every other Thursday.