April 25, 2013
In an attempt to give face to the name of the LGBTQ community, Hamilton’s Rainbow Alliance celebrated their first annual Q Week. The purpose of the week was not simply to address and promote LGBTQ issues, but also to introduce questions about gender, sex and identity to all members of the Hamilton community, including heterosexual and cisgender people.
Last week was chosen because Friday April 19 was the National Day of Silence, a youth movement dedicated to honoring the struggle of the LGBTQ community. Each day, Rainbow held a different event including discussions of race and sexuality, personal stories about coming out and how to be sensitive and cognizant of differences in sexuality and gender identity.
The week began on Monday with a student-faculty dinner hosted by Professor Elizabeth Lee of Sociology. Members of Rainbow Alliance and Professor Lee discussed the identity spectrum, covering the complicated intersection of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.
Rainbow Alliance President Jose Vazquez ’15 explained that he thought the lunch “was constructive and educational for students who didn’t know much about the spectrum.”
The following day, cultural student organization La Vanguardia held a special meeting in honor of Q Week where the topic of race and sexuality was addressed. In the meeting the differences in homophobia across cultures were discussed as well as the different stereotypes and misconceptions associated with LGBTQ people across cultures. After the meeting, Rainbow Alliance held an open house in their new meeting room in the Days Massolo Center where archives from Rainbow’s 20+ year history were displayed. The collection included articles from old Spectator issues, videos from past Rainbow events and a number of different posters from past Rainbow events including protests and lectures.
At Rainbow’s weekly meeting (which takes place every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on the second floor of the Days-Massolo Center, and is open to all students regardless of gender or sexuality), the group discussed the nature of coming out. Members shared personal stories of coming out, explained the constant process of coming out, and shared different tactics they’d used to come out to different people in their lives. The conversation questioned if there was a “right time” to come out and the definition of someone who’s “out.” On Thursday, Rainbow set up a table in Beinecke where members provided informational pamphlets on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
The main event of the week was Friday, the National Day of Silence. The purpose of the day was to protest the treatment of LGBTQ people in the world, and the silence is meant to be representative of the personal silence many LGBTQ people must maintain, due to the prejudice, harassment and discrimination that they face in the world.
Vazquez explained that he felt that the day “brought awareness to students around campus, and for those that participated, it was a difficult but insightful experience. Even the normal day, to normal activities from talking to professors to getting food at Commons were compromised.” In celebration of the day McEwen had rainbow cupcakes at lunch.
The week finished with two workshops held by Hamilton alum Meg Bolger ’11 on Saturday and Sunday, who presented both her well-known “Safe Zone” workshop and a newer “Exploring Identities” workshop to students.
“The exploring identities workshop was designed to make students explore what identities, be it class race gender ethnicity, are most important, and which are you most aware of,” said Chris Lepre ’15 after going to the workshop. He continued saying, “It was really eye-opening in that it made you think deeply about how many identities you’re balancing and which ones you express.”
Looking back on the first experiment with Q Week, Vazquez said saying “I think it went really well. It started as a test run but ended up being really successful,” and as someone who participated in a lot of Q Week activities I agree.
Educational and fun, the week analyzed LGBTQ struggles and activism of the past. The conversations proved hopeful for not only the future of the LGBTQ community, but also for Q week.