C/O Jessica Yang
What embracing identity and finding community has meant in a year of uncertainty for the queer community
This year has been nothing short of challenges and adjustments as we all continue to adapt to the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. For students who identify with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, these experiences can often look quite different.
Emma Zhang, president of the McMaster Queer and Trans Colour Club, said that being in an online space has made personal connections to the queer community more accessible.
“As everyone is shifting into online spaces, it is more accessible for me to reach out to [queer] places and communities in a way that is on my own terms and in a way that will ensure confidentiality, if need be,” said Zhang.
However, though online spaces are accessible, Emily Liang, promotions coordinator of QTCC, said there are caveats. Resources become more accessible online only if you know about these resources already and this may be more challenging especially for those who hadn’t known or explored their queer identity before the pandemic.
Having online-only club activities can also be troubling for folks who are not living in places where they can feel safe about their queer identity.
Although the queer community can be important for 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, every queer person has their own unique experiences with their sexuality. Understanding that there is diversity in the community and that each individual has their own values and their own way of approaching their sexuality is important.
“When you are part of the same community like this, like we’re all part of the queer community, I think some people overextend the extent to which your experiences are the same,” said Liang.
At McMaster, the QTCC provides a unique space for racialized queer folks to find community. The intersectionality of race and sexual orientation plays an important role in shaping the different experiences that queer folks face.
Zhang explained that examples of white privilege within the community include a lack of understanding of the barriers that racialized people may live with.
“[W]hen your white queer friend who says ‘Why don’t you just tell your parents? I’m sure they’ll listen if you just like talk to them’ . . . That kind of is ignorant to the familial piety that may be present within racialized communities and the general greater stigma associated with sexuality and sex,” said Zhang.
Language and terminology can also place additional barriers to discussing their sexuality with family.
“[P]ersonally, my parents have made really terrible remarks about people within the queer community and they don’t even understand what gender identity is, so how do I even bring it up to them if they don’t know what it is . . . Also, my parents are immigrants. They immigrated here [and] they don’t really speak English to a fluent degree, so how can I really talk to them using English words that they wouldn’t even understand in their native tongue?” said Zhang.
For anyone who is looking for ways to better connect with their queer identity, Liang emphasized that there are many ways to do so and she encourages folks to try exploring connections in the community in whatever way they feel comfortable.
Moving forward, given the pros and cons to hosting events online, Zhang and Liang said that QTCC will most likely have a hybrid of online and in-person events next year. Importantly, the club looks forward to fostering more continuity within their events so that queer folks can build long-lasting friendships at McMaster.