I am tired of your blatant homophobia targeted to students like me and the Diversity Alliance. Over the course of the past weeks, I have now heard from several people who have told me what students at Haverford assume about Diversity Alliance and our logo:
“Why do you have a rainbow as your logo? Diversity Alliance is full of gay people. I am not joining that gay club.”
I was deeply saddened. I had this familiar lump stuck in my throat because it was difficult to process these homophobic comments. My sadness turned into exasperation. I was angered by the sheer audacity of my peers to gaslight our work in the Diversity Alliance. But I was not surprised because homophobia is not something new for this community. Incidents like these have been happening for a long time.
Homophobia is a problem at Haverford.
This is not about some misconstrued assumption about our logo with a rainbow on it. There is more than what meets the eye: institutionalized homophobia.
The cycle of homophobia starts from little comments that seem “harmless.”
That is so gay; you look so gay; stop being so gay, for example.
I remember begging my parents to leave at one point.
These comments contribute to a toxic institutionalized homophobic culture. Peers have used these phrases to target students like me in this community who are different, exiling and humiliating them in front of their classmates. I have heard these comments ever since I came here in sixth grade. I still hear them today. I am aware of people who were forced to leave this community in fear of trauma and abuse.
I remember begging my parents to leave at one point. Trust me, it has been ugly.
The recent history of institutionalized homophobia at Haverford dates back to 2004. A Black student approached the administration with the idea of creating a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), but it was struck down by the school board. Having a GSA was perceived as “too radical” by students and administration. It would take fourteen years for the first GSA to come about during my Third-Form year. This stigma has lasting ramifications.
When the GSA was created just three years ago, few people joined because there was a toxic stigma associated with it. It still holds true today. You could not just be an ally in GSA because anyone who joined was seen as “gay” and immediately ostracized. I remember putting up GSA meeting posters all around the school. One day, I was walking down the stairwell after class among a crowd of students. Hurrying past a sea of bodies, I passed by one of the posters, and in the corner of my eye, I saw the “f–” slur visibly and unmistakably written on the poster. I remember standing there, shocked, scared for my life. Everyone walked past me, unnoticed and unbothered.
I didn’t feel safe after that day. The vandalism is gone, but the student is not.
I’ve experienced homophobia ever since I came to Haverford. After so many years, I am used to it. I should not be.
I have worked so hard to build a safe and accepting space so that nobody would have to go through the torture and constant harassment I endured. Every time I lead a Chit-Chat & Chew, send a school-wide email, or write an article in the newspaper, I am conscious of the attention that is drawn to me and the nasty things that I have been called. My peers have called me slurs behind my back, and now, they are targeting the Diversity Alliance with hateful and homophobic rhetoric.
When it felt like the entire school hated me, I at least had a safe space to talk about it. The Diversity Alliance was that space. My peers attack and push back the Diversity Alliance in any possible way. It is either that we are too gay, too liberal, too boring, or that we are doing something wrong. I am tired of it. I have put my blood, sweat, and tears into making Haverford a more just and equitable space, and I am constantly scrutinized for my progressive actions.
The Diversity Alliance Executive Team met various times, trying to change the logo because of the criticism we received. We thought the rainbow in the logo was the problem and people did not want to be associated with it. But we finally realized our community is the problem. Our peers were not just attacking our logo, but the Diversity Alliance altogether.
We need to recognize that homophobia is a problem at Haverford, and unless we address it, nothing will change, and we all will be complicit.
Every day, I try to believe that Haverford is getting better. But every single time I do, I am reminded that it is not.
My greatest fear is that all the work I have dedicated to Haverford will amount to nothing. I am terrified for the future generations of students who will have to bear similar traumas.
I am not asking for your sympathy; I am calling for change. We must dismantle toxic masculinity within our community. We need to recognize that homophobia is a problem at Haverford, and unless we address it, nothing will change, and we all will be complicit.