Viewpoint: Macalester is a queer-positive campus

By Kyle Archer

As a chair of the Queer Union I am often asked whether or not I feel Macalester is a queer positive campus. What is “queer positive?” Is that what it’s called when a campus has Coming Out week and Cabaret every year? Is that what it’s called when a man can walk across campus with a man of their choosing without fear of blatant reprisal? Or is it something even more trivial than that, is it the knowledge that you can say just about anything to any guy, and the worst that’s going to happen is an awkward look and a cold shoulder. Responding to this question of positive attitudes towards the queer community is comparable to responding to whether or not Mac is truly multicultural. I always urge people to ask “so what?” If you simply say Macalester is multicultural you’re missing half of the question. What do Mac students do with their multiculturalism? You can have students in your classes from different countries, but it’s meaningless unless you engage them in some meaningful way. The Twin Cities can be an extremely multicultural place to explore, but that’s worthless if you never leave campus.

I have had both positive and negative experiences dealing with my identity here at Mac. The positive greatly outnumber the negative, but I feel it is the negative ones that define whether or not Mac is queer positive. Some people would measure a campus by how many identity driven incidents there are on campus every year, but to me the measure of a queer positive campus is what happens after the incident. Thinking back to almost exactly a year ago, my car was vandalized when a mirror was broken, a door was kicked in, and a homophobic slur was spray painted on one of my doors. This year homophobic speech was spewed at a student athlete during a contest Macalester was participating in.

From afar it would seem that these events make it hard for anyone to truly call this campus “queer positive,” but we must remember what happened after each of these events. After my car was vandalized a show of support unlike any other I had ever experienced overwhelmed me. Faculty, students, administration, orgs, and publications all expressed their sincere regret and offered to aid me in any way they could. After this year’s athletic incident, a gay athlete’s summit was held on campus for the first time. I am always asked what makes a campus “queer positive” and if Macalester can be defined as such. I always respond the same way, “being queer positive means that when you fall, someone is there to help you up, and at Macalester that hand is always wearing a glimmering rainbow glove.”

Contact Kyle Archer ’10 at [email protected].