By Andrea “Dre” Domingue and Gwendolyn Alden Dean
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF
Creating an inclusive campus community is vital to the success of LGBTQ students of color, but you do not need to hold the burden on your shoulders. Usually only a few individuals, typically LGBTQ students of color themselves, take responsibility for creating an inclusive environment for us. While some students are eager to take on leadership roles to help improve their campus climate, this is a personal choice, not an obligation. It is important to think about your individual needs and what you can do to take care of yourself during your college years.
BUILD A SUPPORT NETWORK
To establish a means of support for yourself, connect with LGBTQ students, faculty and staff of color. It is important to find a safe space where you can talk about your experiences and interact with others who share your identity. In addition to social and emotional benefits, these individuals are vital to LGBTQ people of color resources on campus and locally in your community. Also, consider technology as a means for meeting others, through such resources as listservs, discussion forums and online communities (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and OrgSync). Also, be sure to identify white allies on campus who will not only advocate for LGBTQ students of color concerns but also be people with whom you can share openly without feeling pressure to educate someone of racism and heterosexism.
CAHNGE THE CAMPUS CLIMATE
Strategies LGBTQ students of color and their allies can use to make a campus more inclusive include: advocating for LGBTQ focused programming in multicultural offices/groups; supporting multicultural programming among LGBTQ offices/groups; collaborating with local LGBTQ of color organizations through campus programming; working with student affairs professional to incorporate antiracists and antiheterosexist themes in student and staff leadership trainings; offering continual dialog on the intersection of multiple identities with peers or within student activities; becoming a campus leader; establishing an LGBTQ student, faculty and staff of color support network and creating a webpage or print resource to welcome incoming LGBTQ students of color.
LGBTQ students of color present wonderful opportunities for a progressive dialogue and experience on campus. But, the campus needs to take ownership in offering an inclusive climate for these students. We still have a long way to go in defeating racism and heterosexism both on campus and society at large. Nevertheless, resources and support for LGBTQ students of color has increased substantially in the last few years. More and more administrators and student services staff are cognizant of and concerned about the needs of LGBTQ students of color. Awareness has also increased among white LGBTQ students and straight students of color as well. The key to handling the complex challenges of multiple marginalizations is to identify and utilize appropriate resources as well as prioritize self-care and your personal well-being. This approach can help you, as an LGBTQ student of color, make the most out of your college experience.