Campus Pride: Out at Georgetown
by Meghan Ferguson (guest author) | Georgetown University
As an out student leader on campus, I have a shirt that says, “Hoya Pride,” but the ‘O’ in ‘Hoya’ is replaced with a pink triangle. If you had asked me at the beginning of freshman year if I would ever be wearing a shirt like that, I probably would have laughed at you.
I came out during freshman year of high school, so when it came time for me to pick a college, being a lesbian factored fairly significantly into my choice. It’s interesting then that I chose Georgetown, a Catholic university. In fact, I remember my logic behind my decision, at least with regards to being a lesbian at a Catholic school.
The way I saw it, I loved the school so much that I was willing to be closeted (more or less) for four years. Nay, nay, Buttercup, I was in for a whole lot more than that. Within a month or two of school starting, I had gone from a self-relegated closet-case to Everyone’s Favourite Lesbian (ok, maybe that’s pushing it, but you get the idea). I was out and proud and making my way in the world.
My experience of being out at Georgetown is predominantly colored by two identities: namely, that I am Catholic, and that I am a woman. “What?” I hear you cry “you’re Catholic?!” It’s shocking, I know. I spent most of high school as a closet Catholic around all of my gay friends, lest I hear more exclamations like that; Lucy can only ‘splain herself so many times before it gets old.
I suppose I had expected a similar situation at Georgetown, keeping those two spheres of my identity separate, so it was a surprise to say the least when I found a whole community of us. For the first time, I was able to be out as a Catholic lesbian and not only be accepted by both communities, but be a part of my own community.
I have had some of the most profound conversations with friends about what it means to be queer and Catholic, the unique struggles we face, our doubts, how we reconcile those two identities and also the joys we have experienced. These conversations, and this community, are something I think is very unique to Georgetown, and it has helped me grow in my faith in a way I never thought possible; I dare even say it has made me a better lesbian, because I have learned to grapple with and embrace the intersection of my faith and sexuality.
The second identity I mentioned is an obvious one: I am female. One thing that has become increasingly obvious to me over the past year is that there are very few women involved in GU Pride, and there is no lesbian community to speak of.
At first, I didn’t notice the imbalance; having spent my entire academic career thus far at all-girls schools, it was refreshing to be interacting with guys for a change. Sure, I would lament to my friend, “Where are all the lesbians?!” while he was telling me about all the gay men he was meeting on campus, but it didn’t really sink in just how much of a problem the gender imbalance was until this past semester when I found myself almost always one of two women at events, if even that.
I was the only woman on the board, and it felt very much like I was the token lesbian in the group, sometimes struggling to exert a voice in a gay male-dominated arena. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is hard to be a lesbian here, but it is challenging, in that I don’t have a solid group of queer women with whom I can interact; I know quite a few queer women, but we all seem to be scattered between various social circles with no place to really call our own.
Being out at Georgetown is nothing like I had expected, and I have been very fortunate to have such a positive experience, because I know it isn’t always the case for everyone. There have been ups and downs, and Lord knows I’ll gripe about something or other, but all in all, I owe a great deal to this community for creating a space that has challenged me to look closely at myself, my priorities, and grow into the person I want to be.
When I wear my Hoya Pride t-shirt, I wear it because I am truly proud to be openly lesbian and to call myself a Hoya.