LGBTQ+ students face unique set of fears in advance of election

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SUNNY AHN // THE FLAT HAT

The current political climate is difficult for everyone regardless of party affiliation or policy stances, although it most definitely weighs heavier on some more than others. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community has brought me a lot of queer joy and happiness, as I finally feel accepted and understood, but it also incites a lot of queer fear as a part of a marginalized and oppressed group.  

Although the College of William and Mary campus is fairly welcoming, there are still moments where I feel uncomfortable with simple things such as wearing a pride shirt or holding hands with a romantic partner. This is in no way, shape or form a product of our school itself, but simply a societal issue that is a product of wider injustice and inequality.  

I fully believe that people are entitled to their individual political views and stances, even if I do not personally agree with said views or even fully understand their reasoning behind them. What I absolutely cannot condone are views that utterly go against the rights of a group, such as racial discrimination, gender oppression, pro-life groups and lack of equality for LGBTQ+ people around the world. Our country definitely has strides to go in terms of ensuring freedom and rights for all, but in the last few years, I have felt more overall stagnation and regression than positive growth and change.  

I recently had a conversation with a close family member about the upcoming election; they are fairly conservative, while I am obviously of a different political alignment. The discussion essentially boiled down to this — why I could not avoid passing judgement on those who have different political opinions. As I mentioned, I am able to be tolerant up until a point, the point where rights begin to be taken away or ignored altogether. Simply put, neither candidate for this election is ideal, but one makes me fear for my future abilities as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

I am bisexual and proud, and hope to eventually marry and have kids, either through adoption or another method, but given how things are moving within the White House, as well as the addition of recently confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, these might not be available to me in the next few years. Likewise, I have never been more afraid for my livelihood than before; I feel transported back to a time before there was any acceptance of LGBTQ+ people at all.  

As many people in Williamsburg experienced, there was recently a rally of cars in favor of President Trump and his re-election, as well as a few other minor demonstrations near the campus. I was walking near one of these movements, wearing my bookbag that has both pride and preferred pronoun pins. I was called a f-g by one of the MAGA-wearing supporters. Although this was not my first time being called this particular slur, it was most definitely the first time in many years that this occurred, and the most public. Given that I was very outnumbered, I was immediately afraid, and though I knew nothing would happen right then and there, I did begin to wonder what life would look like after the election on Nov. 3 and beyond.  

I am gay and I am a human deserving respect and political equality, and I do not believe that these terms need be mutually exclusive. I urge everyone to look within themselves and consider how they would want to be viewed as if they were queer like me, and question how they might change their political affiliations because of this. I can only hope that there are enough people who value freedom and democracy over that of wanting lower taxes or private healthcare or any other inane political minutia that doesn’t determine the rights of an entire group of people, especially when they were or will be voting this election. 

Email Elaine Godwin at

sgodwin@email.wm.edu.