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Segregation A Unique Experience???: The Issue of Gay Dormitories April 11, 2009

University Of Vermont Gay Dormitory

University Of Vermont Gay Dormitory

I am having mixed feelings about gay housing. No, No it is not because I am a Conservative hence I must be an evil NEOCON and against the GLBT community. Gay friendly housing has been offered several universities including the University of Vermont and now it is being offered at Texas Christian University:

Courtesy of Advocate.com
Christian University to Offer Gay Housing
By Rhiza Dizon

Texas Christian University will begin offering housing specifically for LGBT students in the fall, becoming one of the few religious colleges in the nation to offer such an option.

“It’s a chance for students to be part of a unique experience,” David Cooper, TCU associate director for residential life, told the Star-Telegram. Cooper also said it’s important to universities because students who feel a connection to their school are more likely to stay.

The DiversCity Q housing component will be open to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students as well as their allies.

Shelly Newkirk, who helped lead the effort for the DiversCity Q housing area, says her vision is for a community where gay and straight students can interact. The TCU sophomore said the new resident halls will have programs for the general campus community.

Such programs offer gay students a way to offer mutual support and create a community, said Nancy Tubbs, director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of California, Riverside, which offers gender-neutral housing and a living-learning community similar to TCU’s. Because straight students can join the living-learning community, it’s not self-segregating, Tubbs said. “I think it’s wonderful that TCU is offering this.”

At first when I read the news about TCU offering gay housing, I thought cool!!! But then something that Coretta Scott King said once echoed in my mind:

“Segregation was wrong when it was forced by white people, and I believe it is still wrong when it is requested by black people.”

When I went to college in Texas, there was a dorm that most of the blacks were “assigned to”. I was assigned to this dorm and noticed after about 2 months that this is where all of the Black kids lived. I wanted to move and I asked the dorm director who was a Latina why did all of the Black people live in dorm “X”.
she replied:

“All of the Black students live in dorm X because they usually want to live there. They feel comfortable with each other. They like it that way”.

At this particular university whenever we filled out dorm applications there was box that we checked which indicated our race. So I assumed that is how I was assigned to “the Black folks dorm”. I spoke to some of my fellow residents and they said they knew that Dorm X was where the Blacks lived but they liked it. For sake of full disclosure, occasionally a Caucasian was assigned to Dorm x but they were usually known as “wiggers” and requested to live there.

Later I became a RA (resident adviser) and noticed that when the dorm applications came in there were actually people that requested to NOT HAVE A BLACK ROOMMATE .

This is why the decision of TCU to have gay housing bothers me. I see it as self segregation which is not a good thing in my opinion I think we need more interaction among diverse groups. Gays, Straight, Black, White, Republicans, Democrats.

It is like the high school lunch table where all of the black people sit together. I never sat at those tables and in college I was cornered by a group of African American students and called a “sell out Clarence Thomas”….”Why do you sit with the white girls???”

I understand the desire for gay students to have mutual support however, I am troubled by the message it may send to others. Shouldn’t we challenge our comfort zones and break down walls rather than going to the nearest IKEA and building them? I am in favor of Black student groups, GLBT groups, Baptist and other religious student groups. Housing on the other hand, is a different issue all together. Remember all of the Equal Housing Laws we have fought so hard for in this country?

Sorry but this seems like a step in the wrong direction to me.

Autographed Letter Signed,
Afrocity

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13 Responses to “Segregation A Unique Experience???: The Issue of Gay Dormitories”

  1. SimoFish Says:

    When I was in my 20’s I didn’t want to hang out with straight people. In fact it wasn’t until my 30’s that I started hanging out with them. Now that I am in my 40’s I am so comfortable with who I am that it doesn’t phase me if my friends are straight or gay – but I must admit – I live in the Bay Area of California (San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland) and know one really says anything.

    I don’t think segregation should be forced either way. It should be an option. A couple years ago a community in the south was fighting having their kids shipped off across town. It provided problems for the parents both white and black. We should really focus on providing GREAT schools no matter what neighborhood.

    I grew up in Iowa – we had one black kid show up for 1 year – Marcus – I liked him, no reason not to. Big deal he was black Marcus loved us we loved him. I had a friend who was Hispanic and I remember going to the girls bathroom in first grade and her showing me she was brown all over. I thought cool – except the palms of her hands were white and I couldn’t figure out why.

    I am hoping with TV changing the way it has and movies that we get move beyond which neighborhoods we live in but to focus on what we as individuals want. Some people want to hang out with their people – gay, straight, brown, black, chinese (is that yellow?) —

    Good post. Is there really a “right” or “wrong” answer? Depends who you ask.

    I for one – want to hang with my straight pals — it makes my life richer.

  2. JuliaH. Says:

    Thank for sharing another point of view! I recently saw a documentary about the Little Rock 9. And one the original students came back to the school…as she stood in a class room she noticed two things.

    One, she was not getting the respect that she deserved to help segregate that school – some African-American male was asleep in the back of the room. She knocked on his desk told him to set up and pay attention. I wanted to shout at the TV – “Hey idiot wake up! You’re in that classroom today by a brave action that she took 40 years ago…and the best you can give her is to sleep at your desk?”

    Two, as she stood at the front of the class, she noticed that the students had segregated themselves because that is where they felt more comfortable. She was mind boggled by the fact, that all that she had suffered in such a manner.

    People do hang out with whom they feel more comfortable. It appears to be that way on both sides of the classroom. I am personally comfortable hanging out with anyone…as it seems you are, too.

    Good post,

    Julia

  3. boldandbald Says:

    I don’t like the idea of separate housing. I can understand the fact that some people might have a problem rooming with someone that is gay or lesbian, and that should be respected as well, but to separate them into another building entirely sends completely the wrong message. College is about learning, not just from books, but from as experience as well. For many people college is their first opportunity to meet and associate with people that come from a different background then they do, and to segregate them like this would seem counter productive to that educational experience.

    Great post Afrocity.

  4. manbearpig68 Says:

    Something doesn’t make sense here! TCU- TEXAS and CHRISTIAN in the same name and acting as this is a step forward..I think somebody pulled one over on the TCU gay student population. They need to room among the rest of the students. After living in Texas and knowing what kind of attitudes prevail there, DiversCity Q will be a target and it is a step back.

  5. dmerline Says:

    Great post. The idea that gay people need a sort of refuge just reinforces the attitudes of those who think it’s correct for them to be outcast from “straight” society.

  6. LesbianNeoCon Says:

    I believe segregation, forced or self-imposed, is nothing but harmful. From teens to mid-30’s, I was very liberal and anti-heterosexual. I probably would’ve welcomed this then. But since those unenlightened years, I’ve come to appreciate all the people in my life – gay, straight, Jewish, Born Again Christian, black, white, etc. Some of my best friends are black ;-).

    By having such dorms only further alienates one group from the others. Anytime groups are offered special treatment, it, in my opinion, defies what being an American is about. We are not fragmented groups (or, at least we shouldn’t be). We should be one people, with one goal in mind, and that is preserving this country and what it stands for. We all have the right to pursue happiness – not the right to be happy – that’s up to the inidivual. Group politics takes aways the individual’s right to pursue anything.

  7. garychapelhill Says:

    When I was in college I lived in a “niche” dorm called Spanish house. We were all students who were studying spanish and wanted to live in an environment where we could practice. It was a really cool experience. Now if only there had been a “gay house” where I could have practiced being gay…But seriously, Like afrocity said, most campuses have student organizations for LGBT, African Americans, Asians, etc. But if they started having the Asian dorm, and the Black dorm, people might raise a few eyebrows. Unfortunately for a lot of people when it comes to gay issues it is hard for them to see it so clearly, because they don’t think of gay rights in the same context as with rights for other minorities. Those in favor think that for some reason gays need some sort of “protection” from the rest of the world. No, we just want equality. And I don’t think having a “gay dorm” does much in helping us achieve that.

  8. melmaguire Says:

    I don’t like the idea of “gay” housing. Have a GLBT group on campus, maybe a “project safe space” kind of thing, but separate housing? Bad idea. I like what Dmerline posted: it makes it okay to keep treating gay and lesbian people as outcasts if they don’t hang out with everybody.

  9. Ward Cleaver Says:

    Afrocity, TCU announced on Monday that they will not be opening a gay dorm after all:

    TCU backs away from plans for gay-themed student housing
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/041309dnmettcu.cff6129e.html

    • afrocity Says:

      Thanks Ward!!! I will check this out and update.
      If you want you Avatar to show you have to sign up for WordPress I am afraid.

      Please come back
      Afrocity

  10. tommygum Says:

    “City! Great blog! I’ll be reading the whole thing. I always enjoyed your posts at LGF. I just found out you have a site. Looks classy. Best of luck. Keep on the good foot! -Bill.

  11. TnTx13 Says:

    Hi Afrocity,

    I see that WardCleaver has passed along TCU’s reversal. I’m a TCU alum living in Tennessee, and my mom told me about the gay dorm issue just yesterday. I must say I was a bit surprised at the whole thing – TCU HAD always been extremely traditional. In fact, while most of the college world had been “liberated” in the ’60s, we still had ‘dorm mothers’ and curfews at TCU in 1973!

    Found your blog from LGF – it’s excellent! I look forward to reading more. Take care!

  12. I had a gay roommate in college. My husband had a gay roomate in college. As a 17 year old with little real world experience, would either of us have agreed to room with them given the choice? If our gay roomates were offered alternate housing would they have accepted or been insulted? Would we have gay friends who are still dear to us 20 years later if we had not been given the opportunity to live with them all those years ago? I’m with you. Segregation is segregation and the world would be a better place if people would just get to know each other without judgement.


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