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QSU, QPoC strengthen ties while maintaining distinct roles

Eleanor Linafet
A&E Editor

Not only was The College of Wooster’s second annual LGBTQIA+ Pride Festival on Saturday, April 7 an event with helpful resources, fun activities and a remarkable performance by the poet Tim DuWhite, but it was also one at which the entire queer Wooster community was welcomed to come together in a space of solidarity and celebration.

The organizations that hosted the event in collaboration with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) were the Queer Student Union (QSU) and Queer People of Color (QPoC), two student groups who have both critically similar and distinctly different roles on campus. The members of these relatively young organizations are currently in the midst of fostering a stronger relationship with one another while still maintaining the necessity of being separate groups.

“I think now more than ever I think it’s very important for the queer community at Wooster to really … stand in solidarity with one another,” said Channler Twyman ’18, the outgoing co-president of QPoC. Marina Adams ’18, the other outgoing co-president of QPoC, went on to explain the conscious effort to still maintain the distinct roles of each group. “We’re very concerned with acting as one in the queer community while maintaining this separateness — while being aware that we do need separate spaces,” Adams said.

QPoC was chartered in the spring semester of 2015 by students who wanted “to provide a space for students who identified both as people of color and as queer people, because they felt as though those needs were not being met in other multicultural spaces or within QSU, which was known as Spectrum at the time,” said Twyman. Though Adams notes that at first there was “a lot of estrangement between the groups,” members of QPoC and QSU have been making a concerted effort in recent years to bridge the gap between the similar organizations.

“As a broad, large queer community on campus, I think it’s important to be able to address whatever issues there were, but more than that, to move forward and say whatever happened then, those people are gone, we have another chance at really collaborating effectively and really creating and fostering this inclusive and welcoming group across any boundaries on campus,” said Ben Bridgman ’20, the public relations chair for QSU and recently appointed liaison to QPoC.

Though both groups are committed to collaborating more, they still want to maintain their distinct and separate roles on campus. Speaking of queer people of color, Twyman said, “It is important to understand that different oppressions do affect us differently because there’s the racial aspect and the queer aspect.” Bridgman also recognized the necessity of having two separate groups. “I do know that having the individual groups is important because the people that have those intersecting identities have different things to talk about and need a different space where they can fully feel safe in that environment,” he said.

Fredi Carey ’19, the outgoing co-president of QSU, emphasized how important it is that his group recognizes the different issues that queer people of color deal with. “As the white queer people or the queer group of campus that is not specifically towards people of color, I think we’re definitely always looking for ways to support queer people of color because we need to be cognizant of the fact that white queer people are almost always the ones that are listened to first,” he said.

To Cesar Lopez ’21, the incoming co-president of QPoC, future support and collaboration will work best if the groups’ members build strong relationships with one another. “We’re working on creating more personal relationships and from there collaborating more as organizations,” he said.

Lopez explained that, looking forward, the groups need to think about “how [they] can collaborate together and foster a similar environment that’s safe for anyone who identifies as queer, regardless of whether both of the organizations are separate.” This vision was echoed by board members of both QSU and QPoC and promises a strong future for the relationship between these similar yet different student organizations.

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