One of my favorite topics that we’ve covered in this course thus far is the creation of counter-spaces. I am intrigued by this concept because I have created these spaces for myself at Muhlenberg without knowing that it had a name attached to it. What is more, it intrigued me to know that counter-spaces are something students of color across the country are constantly creating for themselves. I think my interest lies in the naming of these spaces, as well as, the perception of these spaces by students in the majority body (i.e. white students). But, in learning the language around how to identify these spaces, I think it is also interesting to consider how students of color create layers of counter-spaces.
For me, I know that I have a community of black students that I can reach out to if I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with white students/faculty/staff or white environments on campus. I know that there is a crop of students that I can go to express my emotions. However, I have also created a smaller community, a smaller circle of people, that can relate to my humanity on an even more intricate level. These students are other black and brown queer students. These are people that recognize the intersections of their identity, choose to walk in their truth, and carry a lot of love and compassion in their being and in their spirit. These connections have proven to be the most fruitful for me over these last four years, in that, I was and still are constantly able to perfect and work on balancing my masculine and feminine energy in a way that doesn’t feel attached to the gender binary or composed under the notions of masculinity and femininity as imposed by black and white communities. What I mean by this is – it has been and continues to be important for me to construct counter-spaces that are open to the many freedoms that exist outside of social constructions. The smaller counter-space(s) I have been able to gift myself with remind me that being queer is resistive, and it is beautiful, and it is necessary – to be unapologetically all of those things. In identifying that it was imperative for me to create counter-spaces to counter the spaces already presented to me, I am drawn to the way black student communities are perceived in general on campus. Is it possible to feel doubly invisible? Does this feeling of being doubly invisible translate into hypervisibility? How does it become more challenging to navigate certain academic spaces and social settings when, as a black queer person, you’re actively working against all social constructs supported by the institution and majority populated students? I know this is not the experience of all queer students, but I know it has been the experience of some of the people closest to me at Muhlenberg. We need representation, we need acknowledgement of our existence, we need validation.