You probably know me as the loud, tall black boy who wears booty shorts and crop tops and is always, always ready to “throw that a** in the circle” at your Caucasian parties. Hi! My name is Quess, and, yes, you assumed correctly! I indeed am shamelessly homosexual. I’m an unapologetic and uncommon gay Afro-Puerto-Rican 18-year-old boy from New York.
From the moment I soared out of the closet at 13 years old, I knew my queer spirit could not be tamed. I wear my queerness loudly and proudly every single day because I’ve had to deal with the hardships of being queer all my life. I was severely bullied for being gay since the age of eight, before I even knew what “gay” meant. My “friends” and immediate family members jeered at me because, to them, the way I spoke and carried myself was overtly feminine and thus “gay.” And gay is especially not okay in the hood.
As an out, gay, black boy at a predominately white high school, I faced constant rejection and erasure from white queers. When I tried creating my own group for queer students of color, a white queer faculty member actively tried to stop me. He, and many others, didn’t want me to have space for my queerness. Ultimately, all of the hatred I’d encountered against my queer identity only fueled the immense pride that I have for it. I became louder and more public about my queerness. I learned to love the skin I’m in and embrace my black queerness to the absolute fullest.
Naturally, when I came to college, I hoped for a stronger queer community. I hoped for romantic prospects. I hoped for other queer students that I could befriend and have meaningful discussions with. I hoped for people who would affirm my black queerness and make me feel loved and welcome to Williams. I hoped to be seen, to be validated and to be appreciated for who I am.
Apparently, I was asking for too much. What I got instead were racist messages on Grindr from 45-year-old Trump-supporting white men that wanted to fetishize my black body: “Go back to Africa, but suck my cock first.” What I got instead were threatening and smug looks from white male athletes at Hoxsey Street parties. What I got instead were many matches with guys on Tinder who go to Williams, and yet when they pass me in Paresky act as if they’ve never seen me before. What I got instead were a bunch of quiet, queer white folks who passively disapprove and ridicule my black queer pride as “extra.”
When my friends from other colleges ask me, “What’s the queer community at Williams like?” I genuinely don’t how to respond. I question if there even is a “queer community” here. The word “community” for me implies a sense of unity, friendship and widespread love. That just doesn’t exist for queer people here, at least not for me. For a liberal arts school that prides itself on LGBTQ inclusivity, queerness is neither visible nor celebrated at Williams. It is simply tolerated. Additionally, queerness here isn’t all that inclusive of queer students of color. There aren’t that many spaces or opportunities on campus for queer students of color to connect and celebrate one another.
I acknowledge that everyone embraces their queerness differently. Not everyone is going to be as vocal about it as I often am. Even in college, it is still tough to come into and embrace one’s LGBTQ identity publicly. Everyone is figuring themselves out, and people do that in different ways. There’s no one way to “act” queer. But as a loud gay black man, I feel so acutely aware of being queer on this campus. It feels like a one-man pride parade for me here because there is no sense of pride between Williams’ queer students. Queer people simply exist here. They don’t have a vibrant or even noticeable presence.
One night, after an awful party at 66 Hoxsey St., I came back to my room feeling miserable because I was afraid that I’ll never find a space for my queerness in this school. But I realized that I don’t need to ask for space for my identity; I can demand it. I won’t allow my negative experiences here to make me less prideful or happy. I will not let the queer scene here define me or make me feel undesirable and unworthy of attention. My queerness matters, regardless of whether the Williams community chooses to reject or stigmatize it. Williams will never make me any less proud to be a loud queer.
Quess Green ’20 is from Bronx, N.Y. He lives in Armstrong.