As I was walking down the winding hall of The Village, I tried to imagine what the Temple Queer Student Union office would look like: four tan walls, harsh lighting, no windows, and maybe a rainbow flag or two. I was right; like most Village offices, there’s not much as far as decorations go. But the abundant laughter and jokes I heard spilling out of their office made me realize that it’s about the people, not the decorations, that make the QSU office a haven for creativity.
The Temple QSU executive board is comprised of eight passionate members: President Max Schmidt, Vice President Quinn Heath, Membership Director and Outreach Liaison Ashley Mateo Delarosa, Internal Events Coordinator Hayley Williams, Financial Director Morgan Pivovarnik, Events Coordinator Anthony Sanchez, Secretary Cody Pack, and Public Relations Coordinator Jennifer Lawrence. Each of these people make a conscious effort everyday to make campus a safe place for Queer students. They are a close-knit group, they’re community-service oriented, and they manage to make their meetings a perfect balance of business and fun. Believe me, I sat in on one and had a blast.
As stated on the QSU OwlConnect Profile, “Temple Queer Student Union is an organization devoted to developing community. We strive to provide a safe social space to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) students while exploring issues relevant to the larger community. Such issues include health, civil rights, hate crimes topics, racism within the LGBTQIA community, transphobia, among others. We work to include in our activities students of all sexual orientations, genders, races, abilities, religious and social backgrounds, and economic classes. QSU is a safe space to come as you are without fear of judgment or criticism.”
Photo Courtesy of The Temple News
Temple Queer Student Union first started in the mid-1990s and was known as CommonGround. In 2011, it became Temple QSU. The organization is very active around Temple’s campus: they hold dozens of programs and events every year.
“We have Queer Adventures that are held in the city throughout the semester. We’re responsible for the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the fall and we’re also doing Free Fun Food Friday this month.” explains Schmidt, “We also have a widely recognized event called Come as You Are Prom in the spring semester. This is basically for people who weren’t given the opportunity to have the prom they wanted in high school.”
QSU also participates in OuTU, an event during Welcome Week that introduces new students to all of the Queer organizations on campus, and NCOW (National Coming Out Week). They have partnered with the Career Center and the Fox School of Business for events that discuss how queer people fit into the workplace.
The Temple Queer Student Union is incredibly important and relevant in today’s society. Our nation is beginning to foster the freedom for queer people to come out, but in the same breath, more people feel the freedom to express their homophobia.
“I think often as a person in the queer community, we feel left out from the majority of the people, so having a space on campus is important because our college years are the years that we really grow as individuals and become comfortable with who we are,” says Sanchez. “It’s amazing having a group of people that accept you for who you are and acknowledge your growth. QSU basically waters the plant to help you grow as a person.”
Temple University has made strides to combat homophobia and promote inclusivity, but QSU feels there’s needs to be more effort.
“I think there are certain departments that do better jobs than others, but Temple as a whole, like including the Board of Trustees, they don’t put a lot of emphasis on minority and marginalized groups.” explains Sanchez.
Currently, queer students on campus have very few events that are sponsored by the university. One of these is NCOW. But without the tenacity and persistence of organizations like QSU, NCOW wouldn’t exist.
Sanchez continues, “It’s taken so long to have trans-rights and trans-inclusive housing, and it’s still not a thing on Temple’s campus. There are handfuls of universities across the nation that have put these things in place, so why hasn’t Temple?”
Vice President Heath cuts in, “So many colleges have offices of LGBTQ affairs, which is something that Temple doesn’t have. We have the Department of Diversity, which is kind of broad. LGBT issues are their own issues.”
“Having only one place to try and incorporate so many things under the umbrella of “diversity” is really problematic.” says Sanchez.
The organization discusses these and other issues during their executive board and general body meetings. Some of their most discussed LGBTQ issues in recent years have been intersectionality, gender-inclusive housing, trans-issues, race relations within the queer community, and bisexuality erasure, which is the tendency to ignore, remove, or falsify evidence of bisexuality in history, the media, etc.
QSU currently has about 50 devoted members, but sometimes more show up to meetings, and typically their events are widely attended. When I asked if students have to be a part of the LGBTQ community to join the Temple Queer Student Union, I was replied to with a resounding “NO!”.
“Anyone can come if they’re open-minded, respectful, and willing to learn and listen.” says Heath.
So, straight people, how can you be more inclusive to the LGBTQ community in your everyday life? I’m so glad you asked. And so is Temple QSU. Here’s their advice:
– “You can deal with it by not dealing with it. Just…don’t make it a big deal.” –Max Schmidt.
– “You can also be aware of those issues and the specific needs of the LGBT community, because if everyone just ignores it, then things like gender-neutral housing will never happen.” –Quinn Heath
– “Be aware of the language you use. So like simple things like saying ‘gay wedding’. Like as happy as that sounds, it’s just a wedding for a gay couple. Saying ‘gay wedding’ makes it other, makes it like there’s a regular wedding and that a gay wedding isn’t normal.” –Anthony Sanchez
– “Education. Educate yourselves and do your own research. Because some people get very offended when straight people don’t understand, and they don’t want to take the time to explain to people…which they don’t have to. But I think it’s good for people to go out and do their own research if they want to be involved.” –Jennifer Lawrence and Hayley Williams
– “Be aware that we still struggle for our rights; outside of Philadelphia, gay people can still be evicted and fired legally just for loving the people we love.” –Anthony Sanchez
QSU has general body meetings every Monday at 6p.m. and holds events regularly around campus. After all their general body meetings, they hold “Queer Coffee” at Saxby’s on Liacouras Walk, which can sometimes go until midnight.
“Yes, we are QSU, but we still help and collaborate with other queer organizations. We all work as one to ensure that all of our voices are heard. We celebrate diversity; we welcome all religions, ethnicities, races, etc.” says Sanchez.
There has never been a better time to be queer at Temple. QSU has the tools, passion, creativity, and drive to change the way this campus views the LGBT community.
Follow QSU on social media:
Twitter: @TempleQSU [https://twitter.com/TempleQSU]
Instagram: @temple_qsu [https://www.instagram.com/temple_qsu/]
Facebook: Temple QSU [https://www.facebook.com/TempleQsu/?fref=ts