Picture this: you’ve been in college for a year, you’re starting to realize you belong somewhere under the umbrella of ‘queer,’ and you want to explore that possibility. At face value it seems like the best case scenario: you live in a liberal city, your friends are supportive or also in the same boat, and you might even have your eye on someone. You start to daydream about finding the one for you, you imagine yourself freely hitting on someone at a party, and maybe even working up the courage in your head to ask someone out for coffee. But wait… pause. Suddenly every possibility comes crashing down, your desires crushed, and your identity put in jeopardy. But why? Because you go to BC— also known as Boston’s Closet.
Here’s the thing. Boston College has circles of people, classes, professors, and student organizations that truly are safe spaces. But as a whole, the institution and the student body create an environment where you feel hesitant to reveal your queer identity, often fumbling your words as you debate if this moment could potentially end in the sting of a slur. It keeps you quiet, and for some people that could mean never being given the space to explore their sexuality. For others, it means assuming you’re friends with every existing gay person in your graduating class because you’ve barely interacted with queerness outside of your own circle.
Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world. There’s other ways of meeting people that don’t involve a dark mod party or a class crush. Maybe the internet is the way to go when you’re at a school so determined to quash pride and openness. So now you hop on a couple of dating apps and suddenly you’re seeing familiar faces, classmates, and acquaintances popping up on your feed. You wonder why you never knew they were gay, but brush it off assuming they haven’t come out yet. You don’t think about the very real possibility that someone at this school shoved them back in the closet by making an offhand remark about sexuality. You also forget to consider that their peers may be some of the worst people to come out to; after all, there’s no hate like Christian love. And Christian love (or Jesuit love, here at Boston College) is only acceptable in the form of boy and girl, man and woman. They tell you all about how 60% of attendees will marry another BC attendee and how there’s a huge dating culture, but they never tell you that they only celebrate it if you’re straight.
The hate here is very real. Leaving prideful spaces in other areas of the world and returning to campus feels like immersing yourself in a heterosexual prison. It almost feels like self sabotage; returning to BC time and time again, knowing the majority of the community is doing everything it can to reduce your identity and convince you it’s not as valuable as heterosexuality. But the love of the queer community is also present on the heights, and I see it budding all over campus, popping up in shared hammocks or a shared cone at White Mountain. When you know where to look and how to find it, you can see it for what it is: genuine and honest love. I see it in the healthy, queer relationships that my friends have successfully found at BC, not knowing they’re probably inspiring someone who is struggling to navigate the BC binary. It’s clear that the campus is not void of queer love. The community exists, and is made up of the people you least expect. Visibility is possible, if only we stop expecting people to remain in the closet.