What makes Whitman feel welcome and safe for GLBTQ students?
“One of the best parts about Whitman for GLTBQ students is the multitude of wonderful open-minded people on campus who see your personality before your sexuality. There are many intelligent and caring people who are willing to engage in thoughtful conversations about sexuality, and both students and faculty make a conscious effort to avoid stereotyping.” (junior psychology major, male, gay)
“People are very open and non-judgmental here. There are definitely some people at Whitman who are a little surprised at first and lots of people who have no experience with queer people, but they also tend to be open minded and curious, rather than scared or defensive.” (junior theatre and politics major, gay)
“GLBTQ and Coalition Against Homophobia put on lots of great events and speakers that really help contribute to this. For example, events such as Same-Sex Hand Holding Day, the Matthew Shepard lecture series, and Queer Prom really help GLBTQ-identified people feel more accepted through positive representation. In addition to events like this, Whitman also feels safe because it is generally a very liberal campus, so people aren't likely to be very vocal if they do have a problem with GLBTQ people ... and odds are, they probably don't.” (junior music major, female/cisgendered, queer)
“To me, it's been very helpful to have Whitman be such a small school- I'm more comfortable experimenting with new ways to express myself and my sexuality than I would be in a larger environment.” (first year student, male, gay)
How do you feel about coming out at Whitman?
“The term “Coming out” to me brings up an image of calling a meeting to order and announcing my sexuality. That didn’t happen for me at Whitman, but it didn’t need to happen for me here. Just naturally being was enough, mentioning an ex-girlfriend or observing an argument from a queer perspective if it came up. In general Whitties are pretty good at going with the flow. I’ve found that if you don’t make a big deal about it others won’t either. It doesn’t need to be a big deal here.” (senior rhetoric and film studies major, female, queer/bisexual)
“Very good! One of the best decisions of my life. : )” (first year student, male, gay)
“Coming out at Whitman is much easier than coming out back home - a small town in California. My section mates accepted me as soon as I made it clear I was gay, and I also didn't have to go up to people and say, 'Hello, I am gay.' The fact that I didn't have to announce it to everyone was comforting and a huge relief which is hard to find back home.” (first year religion and philosophy major, male, gay)
How GLBTQ friendly are faculty in the classroom?
“Very very very very very friendly... which makes sense; I have had a fair number of professors who are GLBTQ-identified themselves.” (junior music major, female/cisgendered, queer)
“While I’m sure it varies, I’ve personally never seen less than acceptance.” (senior music major, male, gay)
“All the professors I've encountered so far are perfectly accepting of all gender roles and sexualities. They also don't make a huge deal about it, which sets a great example for the students.” (sophomore anthropology major, female, queer)
“I haven't really had a big test of the issue in any of my classes yet, but the general attitude seems very friendly. On days when I've felt the need to be more out there with my sexuality in the way I dress and act, I've felt comfortable enough to do that.” (first year student, male, gay)
How would you describe the social scene for GLBTQ students?
“Pretty chill. There are LGBTQ meetings and events (Drag Fest is awesome!) but there's no set cliques. People hang out in many different circles regardless of gender, sex, or sexuality.” (sophomore biology-geology major, gender queer, likes people)
“Small but alive. Whitman is a small school and hence has a relatively small queer population. I have many queer friends and there are some queer events, but there is not a thriving, specifically queer social scene.” (junior theatre and politics major, gay)
“To be honest, it’s changed even since I was a freshman. I feel like when I entered, it was much more apparent how few of us were open but still wanted that sense of community. Now I think there are more students who take being out and having community for granted; they want and expect both. Even if the dating pool often seems more like a dating puddle, if you want to socialize with other queers, you’re going to be able to.” (senior music major, male, gay)
What annual social event should a GLBTQ student not miss at Whitman?
“Dragfest is a good one, because it brings everyone together, not just GLBTQ students. For an event that promotes solidarity among the community, though, I’d recommend alumni brunch.” (senior rhetoric and film studies major, female, queer/bisexual)
“Queer prom, the Matthew Shepard lectures, National Coming Out Day, and Same-Sex Hand-Holding Day.” (junior music major, female/cisgendered, queer)
“Drag Fest. So much fun! Many different parts of the student body come out for the party. It's pretty casual, and you can take it as far as you want, but I've seen some really incredible get-ups, and some of the best have been from kids you'd never expect to see at such an event. But that's how Whitman is, everyone's really chill.” (sophomore biology-geology major, gender queer, likes people)
What three words best describe Whitman's environment from the perspective of a GLBTQ student?
“Open-minded, curious, small” (junior theatre and politics major, gay)
“Open, Accessible, Inclusive.” (sophomore biology-geology major, gender queer, likes people)
“Laid-back, accepting, imperfect” (senior gender studies major, transgender male, pansexual)
“Comfortable, Close, Fun” (first year student, male, gay)
What would be the top three things to do in the GLBTQ social life at Whitman?
“Get to know queer faculty, be part of the queer panel at Walla Walla University, and go all out for drag fest.” (senior rhetoric and film studies major, female, queer/bisexual)
“That depends on the student: some people are still working on coming out before they graduate (always number one priority!), while others are just looking for kicks. I’d say the best things I’ve done so far has been building a circle of queer friends, going to the GLBTQ events and parties (especially the Alumni breakfast), and running in Whitman’s annual nude run (not necessarily a queer event, but still one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had).” (senior music major, male, gay)
“The same things as regular social life at Whitman: Join an IM sports team (can be as serious or as silly as you want it to be), go to any of the various events that are regularly put on, and go to parties or hang out with friends.” (sophomore biology-geology major, gender queer, likes people)
What is the best GLBTQ opportunity to educate others on campus?
“Coalition Against Homophobia puts on lots of really neat events every year designed to educate the campus community about queer-related issues. We’ve put on exhibits, vigils, lectures, movie nights, panel discussions, and all kinds of other programming to educate and promote dialogue about issues such as hate crimes, coming out, LGBT-identified Christians, and the history of drag.” (senior gender studies major, transgender male, pansexual)
“I prefer more informal interactions, like bringing up a queer perspective during conversation. Putting the face of an individual as opposed to a group is often more memorable and thus effective.” (senior rhetoric and film studies major, female, queer/bisexual)
“The best education experience often happens in the dorms, in the everyday encounters that show how GLBTQ students have the same hopes, dreams and fears of any college student. I wouldn’t have thought prior to college that gay and straight freshman males could successfully share a bedroom, but I know now that it is not only possible, but it’s not a big deal.” (senior music major, male, gay)
What is the best GLBTQ Accepting Religious/Spiritual Organization(s)?
“I am involved in the Whitman Unitarian Universalist group. UUs are very accepting of queer people and actively try to be inclusive and welcoming.” (junior theatre and politics major, gay)
“The First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) is very LGBT-positive. I’ve attended and been a choir member there for the last four years and have always felt comfortable being there.” (senior gender studies major, transgender male, pansexual)
“Never looked for one.” (senior music major, male, gay)
“Shalom, our Jewish student group on campus is very queer friendly, sometimes more queer Jews on campus than straight (not really, but it has felt that way some years!!)” (senior, gender queer, queer)
Share a little known fact about Whitman’s GLBTQ community.
“Questioning is part of it. The community is absolutely open to anyone who’s questioning their sexuality. Coming to a meeting does not brand you as gay or “lesbian” and can in fact prove very informative and comforting during such situations.” (senior rhetoric and film studies major, female, queer/bisexual)
“While Whitman is a fabulous place to be gay, it is a small community. You need to be prepared for the fact that you will be a part of a small, but by no means invisible minority. Whitman is not a great place to hook up with a bunch of people or make exclusively queer friends, but it is certainly an open, supportive, and loving community.” (junior theatre and politics major, gay)
“You can find most of us in the Whitman Chorale – it sounds stereotypical, but there’s definitely an element of truth.” (senior music major, male, gay)
What advice do you have for incoming queer students, i.e., what should they expect?
“Just be open with people from the beginning. There's no need to hide here as the majority of students wouldn't even blink an eye at finding out that someone is LGBT or Q. Just do your thing and be yourself, and you'll do great!” (sophomore biology-geology major, gender queer, likes people)
“You don’t have to be queer all the time, just like a person doesn’t have to be an English major all the time or a daughter/son all the time. A lot of the time you’re just a person.” (senior rhetoric and film studies major, female, queer/bisexual)
“Mostly, I would say to take advantage of all the GLBTQ-type events and resources Whitman has to offer. Go to club meetings or a lecture -- put yourself out there and meet people. At Whitman, a lot of people don't feel the need to come out as explicitly as they would in other places simply because of the widespread acceptance on campus, so it's a little harder to make GLBTQ friends. That's why I would suggest going to events and club meetings and everything.” (junior music major, female/cisgendered, queer, junior)
“Expect to be surprised.” (senior music major, male, gay)
(all responses updated May 2011)