The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
During my last year of high school, I finally made the decision to come out as pansexual to my close friends and Japanese family (following in the brilliant footsteps of Rina Sawayama)! To provide some context, I grew up with a conservative mother who was heavily involved in our town’s Japanese community, and my closest friends at the time were devoutly religious. For most of my life, I sought to find my identity at this intersection of being Japanese-American and Christian. While I’ve come to realize that I no longer identify with the same beliefs, I had previously built all of my attitudes and values based on those surrounding me.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I was finally able to face my internalized homophobia and realize that it stemmed from the intersectionality between two seemingly contradictory identities. Seeking to find others who struggled with how mutually exclusive queerness and religion seemed to be, I had learned the term “queerituality.” Queerituality simply provides the vocabulary to describe how being queer or being religious are not factors that exclude one from being a part of the other community. After having heartbreaking conversations with those I previously shared so much of my life with, I looked for a compassionate space where queer students and allies could talk about their struggles and successes of cultivating their spiritual practices. With ongoing homophobic attitudes and beliefs that are still fostered within some religious communities (definitely not all!), I was extremely surprised to find that only one college campus has a student led program to discuss these issues.
At the end of my high school career, I had gotten into one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant student populations in the country (Go Bruins!). In the heart of a city that prioritizes each individual’s unique experience, I believe that our student body should be leading these difficult conversations. In an environment constantly buzzing with intellectual inquiry and foreign perspectives, college campuses, in general, have the most potential to have eye-opening discussions regarding this topic. These conversations about queerituality are not only about shared grievances or our ability to explore multiple spiritual facets in our lives. It is primarily about seeing spiritual or religious practices as something completely separate from sexuality. Regardless of if you identify as religious or not, the former statement could have very well impacted your journey to self-love or acceptance of others. For those who identify as queer, even having religious family members is bound to impact self-perception. If you do not consider yourself a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the common stigmas about this topic makes it an extremely relevant, unaddressed topic.
Every individual’s experience with coming to terms with their identity looks completely different. Queerituality, deep down, addresses the common feelings we all have when our membership as a part of a certain community feels delegitimized. I believe that UCLA and other college campuses are the best places to sit down and dive into how our previous thoughts about identity will strengthen our relationship with others and ourselves in the future.