On The Margins, Between The Lines: Where are Stanford’s lesbians?

Opinion by Jamie Solomon
Oct. 5, 2011, 12:27 a.m.

On The Margins, Between The Lines: Where are Stanford’s lesbians?Every Saturday, when I am home in Oakland for the summer, my parents and I go to our local farmers’ market. In addition to the fresh local food, one of my favorite things about it is the fact that I can see the diversity of people who live in the neighborhoods around me. I get to see the little kids that squirm with impatience as their parents look at vegetables, the most useless of all foods when you’re six, the adorable older couples shopping together, the young guys on the side peddling their music and the families whose children’s faces reflect but do not always reveal the heritage of their interracial parents.

The people that I love most of all, though, are the lesbian couples. They often stroll through the market, hand in hand, buying food together and making sure their kids don’t get stepped on by the other busy shoppers. Oakland is to lesbians what San Francisco is to gays. It’s not as nationally renowned, but it’s been a hotbed of lesbian community and activism for decades. It’s a place that I’m proud to come from and I love living in a community where people don’t have to hide who they are or whom they love.

I think of Stanford as also having that quality, but last fall when I got to campus I began to realize that I don’t know very many women here who are very open about being lesbians. At best, I’ve only been aware of three or four female undergrads in my time here that identify as something other than straight, but I know many gay men. So I started to wonder why that is.

Are there really no lesbians at this school? Does the Office of Undergraduate Admissions have an unconscious bias against them? Stanford is well known for being an accepting place; it was ranked second on the Princeton Review’s list of the nation’s most LGBT-friendly colleges in 2011. It just seems to me that the number of gay men and women should be about equal here, and the fact that this doesn’t appear to be true worries me. That might be a faulty assumption, but I can’t help but wonder: where are all of Stanford’s lesbians (and bisexual and questioning women)? I have some theories, but I have no way to tell if any of these are actually true. It’s hard to track down a hidden or missing population.

Maybe the lesbians who go to private universities for college mostly end up at women’s colleges. Women’s colleges are widely joked about as being bastions of lesbianism. Gay men don’t really have an equivalent option; maybe Stanford only gets the male half of the high-achieving LGBT students.

It could be that I’m just better at spotting gay men. If a guy acts flamboyant here or flirts with everyone regardless of gender, I’m likely to ask about his sexuality. If a girl does this, I think nothing of it. I know who’s gay because I ask; I don’t know who’s a lesbian because I much more rarely make assumptions about women’s sexuality.

Are lesbians actually just as prevalent as gay men, but just not as loud about it? Do I have lots of lesbian friends I just don’t know are lesbians? If this is the case, then I feel like Stanford students are missing a chance to hear the stories and experiences of lesbians. The diversity at Stanford is wonderful, but it is only really valuable if people share their opinions and backgrounds with one another.

On the other hand, maybe this whole column is silly and the reason that I don’t know any lesbians is because I don’t hang out with lesbians. They could be hiding in places I don’t frequent. I just happen to know all the gay performers because I do theater and love a cappella.

The worst option is that maybe, even though this is a great place to be gay, Stanford’s not a safe space for a lesbian to be out and loud and proud. I have no idea if this is true, but if it is, this is an important thing for us to work on as a school and figure out how to fix.

So what’s the reason? If this was an academic paper, I would suggest we launch a survey or do more research to find the answer. But this is just a lowly opinions article, so the most I can really say is: think about it. Talk about it. And don’t just let me know what you find; let our whole school know.

Continue the discussion with Jamie by emailing her at jamiesol(at)stanford.edu.

35 Responses

  1. Actually, Stanford has a pretty significant population of women that identify as queer, lesbian, bisexual, et cetera. We even have a mailing list, which means we’re legit ([email protected]). I encourage you to get involved with Stanford’s vibrant queer community. The LGBT Community Resources Center (lgbt.stanford.edu) is a good place to start.

  2. Have you looked for queer ladies at Stanford? Because there are a lot of us. We’re really very easy to find because we’re everywhere. I honestly don’t understand how it’s possible that you’ve only met 3 or 4 non-straight girls who are undergrads – I mean I’m pretty sure I see that many non-straight girls just walking through white plaza on any given day. Or walking through the English department. Or hanging with my CS buddies. Have you ever been to a queer event? I can guarantee that you have been in classes with us, in dorms with us, at concerts and meals and games. You didn’t ask, not because you don’t make assumptions about women’s sexuality, but because you do make assumptions. Don’t assume everybody’s straight until proven otherwise.

  3. I can see what you’re saying in that queer women are less visible in general because sexual expectations of queer women are a lot more fluid than for men. However, you make a couple assumptions that really weaken your point.

    You make three assumptions that are ultimately untrue:
    1) Because I don’t see them = they are not there
    2) All women are straight until proven not straight
    3) All women who don’t identify as straight are lesbians

    And to address these three assumptions:
    1) There is actually a really vibrant queer women’s community at Stanford. Although I’m not a queer woman myself, those are my roots, and I guess you can say that I am a “close cousin” to the queer women’s community. Queer women are people that I hang out with on a regular basis, either in the context of a queer event or even just you know, hanging out. Yes, they might not be as visible compared to say, the queer men’s community, but they’re there. And they’re thriving. Of course, I’ve spoken to several queer women who were attracted to other women but didn’t know if those women were queer or not, and it took some investigating to figure it out — so that kind of gestures to what you’re trying to say. But just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean that they’re not there.

    2) It seems that you also assume when you see a person, you automatically assume that they are straight. That’s probably not the best way to go about it. In having this mindset, it subconsciously erases queer identities, and automatically makes queer identities the “Other.” Maybe it’s my training as an RA, but I’ve learned to keep an open mind about people, and to use gender neutral terms when talking to people about situations involving attraction, relationships, etc., until the person has clarified whether they’re straight, gay, pans, bi, etc. (When talking to a girl for instance, asking “Did you meet anyone at the party?” rather than “Did you meet a boy at the party?”) — in order to acknowledge the fact that there are many sexual identities, and that I am accepting of all of them. It’s a very small detail — but I knew that did good for many a freshman back in the day.

    3) I suppose the more appropriate term to use is “queer women.” I know some queer women who identify as lesbians, but there are others who identify as bisexual, pansexual, queer, so on and so forth. I’ve observed the term “lesbian” is actually waning as an identifying term for various reasons, but that’s a whole other conversation entirely.

    As an aside, you also seem to assume that gay men are effeminate, which is why you can spot them better — I know a lot of gay guys who “pass” as straight, I guess you could say.

    I see what you’re getting at — however, it’s not fully fleshed out in this column, and as a friend, I warn you that you’ll probably be getting some backlash from the queer women’s community.

  4. I took the liberty of counting how many of my facebook friends are queer and female-identified Stanford students (mostly classes of ’14 to ’11) and that number is 38. And I’m sure there are many more that I have yet to meet… Anyway, they’re out there! Come to the LGBT-CRC or go to Terra Happy Hour or any queer women’s event and you’ll meet them 🙂

    I also want to second Janani and Chris’ comments below. 

  5. Mmm I’m disappointed by the negativity expressed by the queer community about this article.  I understand where it comes from – it’s hard when people don’t “get you” – but if we attack anyone who is not a Fem Studies major or hasn’t totally steeped themselves in the appropriate ways to refer to queer people, then we alienate the vast majority of potential allies.  This girl (woman?) is obviously an ally and is opening an important conversation.  I know that the conversation then obviously needs to include queer (and challenging) points, but how about we thank her for opening the conversation instead of attacking her for being imperfect.  If we expect people to get it right the first time they open their mouths, even if we think they have an ethical responsibility to do so, we ruin a big source of good will.

  6. True, this is an excellent opportunity for education. I will admit, as a queer person, I sometimes get confused by all the new terminology that pops up so frequently, and it takes me a while to get used to it. The queer community is a very dynamic community, and even for us LGBT people, it’s often a learning process to respect and acknowledge our peers. So I sympathize with Jamie on that point.

    But is writing a column the best way to express these views? Yes, it starts up conversation amongst ourselves, but more often than not it starts up conversations between separate groups — I can see some non-LGBT people going, “Exactly! She’s completely right!” and LGBT people going, “She’s so wrong! omg!” with not much overlap between the two. As somebody who drifts in between the non-LGBT and LGBT worlds, it’s strange how different views can be, and how much separation there is between the two.

    In order to get the full picture, readers need to go out and do the research themselves, and let’s face it — if it’s not required for schoolwork, people aren’t gonna do it. People can go look at the comments on this page, if they want, but usually people read columns in the newspaper, and don’t look at the Internet arm of the Daily. I guess our best bet is for an op-ed or a letter to the editor addressing Jamie’s points, and providing Stanford (and the surrounding area) with the correct terminology, awareness. etc.

  7. I’ll just think of the word “lesbians” in this article as a shorthand for “queer women;” they regularly surround me.

    And this looks like a good takeaway from the article:

    “Are lesbians actually just as prevalent as gay men, but just not as loud about it? Do I have lots of lesbian friends I just don’t know are lesbians? If this is the case, then I feel like Stanford students are missing a chance to hear the stories and experiences of lesbians. The diversity at Stanford is wonderful, but it is only really valuable if people share their opinions and backgrounds with one another.”

    Yes, queer females are probably as prevalent as queer males on campus.
    Yes, you probably have lots of queer female acquaintances whom you probably don’t know are in fact queer and female-identified.
    So you are, indeed, probably missing out on hearing the stories and experiences of queer women.

    I’m intrigued by what your remark “loud about it” could refer to in solid reality. Of course, you meant something by it, and what you meant might be interesting, but I’m more interested in whether it is indeed objectively easier (for a person with your faculties) to positively reckon non-straightness in men than women (when one limits one’s sample to the Stanford campus). It may well be, and that will be an artifact of the rich anthropology you so dearly seem to hunt.

    And it bothers me that you have indeed missed out so far from exposure to queer women. I strongly suggest that you make up for it by perusing the Stanford Mailing List database, and visiting gender-and-sexuality-related organizations in your remaining time at Stanford.

    Good luck, and have a hug!
    The tone of many of these comments may seem a bit harsh, but that is always the case when one says something unusual, or with inelegant and apparently uninformed articulation. Your vocal sentiments are, as always, appreciated and encouraged.

  8. I agree with the Supportive Lesbian!  Thank you for taking a risk and sharing your thoughts with us. There have been too many times when queer, allied, and questioning voices have been silenced by our very own community for the sake of correctness and theory. I, too, have wondered “where are all the lesbians at?!?!” (both in jest and in seriousness). Many of my friends, gay and allied, have wondered that too. I don’t think your experience or view is flawed. You’re human and this is your experience. My peers will offer you their perspectives on different ways of thinking and approaching the problem and it might be harsh but don’t take it too personally. I trust that they also have good intentions of guiding you in the right direction. Take it, absorb it, grow from it. Be proud that you got people to think about the subject. It’s not everyday I read about lesbians in the Daily! Your column was fun to read.Also, I’m from the surrounding Oakland area and I had NO idea that Oakland is to lesbians what San Francisco is to gays : D. Now I know where to look : )

    -A Queer person that doesn’t think you’re wrong

  9. Seconded by another supportive lesbian! Thanks for opening the conversation and expressing a desire for more lesbian visibility on campus, Jamie 🙂

  10. The annual Queer and Questioning Women’s Lunch (held first day of classes, Autum Qtr) is always a great event, and this year extra chairs and plates had to be brought in because the turnout was so large.  Everyone has a chance to introduce themselves to the group and say something about  the communities and groups they are a part of at Stanford, and I am always struck by how extensive a network there actually is. 

  11. This sentence was intended to be much more flippant than it comes off as. Re-reading it by itself, yes, it does come off as very arrogant and commodifying of gay men.
    I can try to explain what I meant, but I might also just end up shooting myself in the foot. Most of the gay men that I know are performers. They’re often more flamboyant and love the spotlight. (I also know straight men like this- it just comes with the territory of wanting to shine onstage). What I was trying to say is that maybe gay men are more visible in my life because the ones that I know conform better to gay male stereotypes and have big personalities and are very public with who they are. (not all queer men that I know are like this.) So the LGBT students that I know at Stanford are probably a skewed group that is non-representative of Stanford undergrads as a whole. (which indeed the reaction to this article has shown to be true).
    I’ll probably write a longer response at the end of the day to what people are saying. This one sentence just stands out as not reading the way I meant it to and I wanted to comment on it.

  12. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I would correct you – when you say that the LGBT students you know are “probably” a skewed group, I would say it is “definitely” a skewed group.

    You should also be aware that many people in the queer community are upset with this article. We wonder what you want from us. Should we tattoo our queer status on our foreheads? Do you want us to introduce ourselves to you? Roll you out in the morning?

    It is not our job to make you a more tolerant and self-aware person. I appreciate your willingness to reexamine your positions, but you have a lot more work to do.

  13. I appreciate your attempt to explore a community that is perhaps foreign to you or difficult to understand.  However, what I cannot ignore is the sheer enormity of ignorance and misinformation you present here.  Just the statement:

    “I just happen to know all the gay performers because I do theater and love a cappella”

    alone suggests that your knowledge of the LGBTQ community consists solely of what you’ve picked up from “Will and Grace” or “Glee.”

    While much of your opinion poses a lot of problems, what I find most offensive is your notion that all queer women must exert they sexuality publicly and in a similar manner (akin to the flamboyance and flirtatiousness you so vaguely apply to the entirety of gay men).  We are not cookie-cutter lesbians who can be “spotted” or identified by the way we interact, the institutions we attend, or the activities we choose to partake in.  Queer women are unique individuals, and we are present in all aspects of the Stanford community.  

    Additionally, perhaps the reason you seem to have trouble identifying queer women is the fact that many of us prefer to be valued and identified as people for reasons other than our queer-ness.
    While you seem to derive enjoyment from observing lesbian couples at the supermarket, you should perhaps consider that these women are just people trying to live out their lives.  They are not zoo animals for you to delight in, nor should they be asked to put their sexuality on display for straight women to observe.  

    If you disagree, perhaps we should reinstitute the Nazi pink triangle badge, so that queer women such as myself can be easily identifiable to people such as yourself, Jamie.  That way you won’t be inconvenienced by having to actually get to know me as a person.

  14. I think this article is a great way to start some sort of conversations about this. I honestly find it really hard to understand why anyone would be offended. She repeatedly said that just because she doesn’t see/notice lesbians doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t there. And as far as the queer nomenclature, get over yourself.

    The writer of this article is simply trying to address an observation and start a dialogue about it. We are all different people and perhaps it is the case that a lot of queer/questioning women don’t feel comfortable being out at Stanford. 

    The article is obviously coming from a place of inquisitiveness/concern. If you choose to jump down the throat of every straight person who says anything about the LGBT community that you do not agree with then you are only doing yourself a disservice.

  15. Thank you.  I’ve been watching this thread with some disbelief.  As a gay guy, I really don’t like being represented by this hostility.  All I can say is that the noisiest 10% of LGBT people do not represent the quieter majority of people who just get on with their lives and avoid making a scene about something as mundane as this article.  It’s one thing to get pissed off about real discrimination – getting pissed off about this is so unbelievably counter-productive.

  16. You come from what you describe as a “hotbed of lesbians”, and you are surprised that there aren’t that many at Stanford.  Maybe there aren’t as many lesbians as there are gays, and you grew up in a distorted environment.  

  17. Okay, I will admit that my reply was a little vehement and unnecessarily drew conclusions that the author was definitely not aiming for.  I apologize for the reference to the pink triangle (an exaggeration that didn’t add anything to the discussion here), and admit that my comment was made in the heat of irritation and frustration.  

    However, I do assert my claim that queer women are present at Stanford, without necessarily being “loud” about their sexuality.  While being queer represents a part of who I am, I prefer to let other qualities define my identity.   

    Anyways, thank you to “Wow” for showing me that my response has shown an equal amount of ignorance as that which I so angrily attacked an hour ago.  It’s definitely a reminder that perhaps it’s best not to reply until one has taken a moment to step back and listen.  

  18. Hey Robin, I just wanted to apologize for the extremely and overly strong language in my reply.  I saw the comment as being destructive toward the queer community which upset me, but failed to remember that I’ve posted (or said) similar comments in the heat of the moment before.  I’m truly sorry for going so far over the top with my comments, and thanks for being so humble with your counter response.

  19. I’m thinking about what prompted Jamie to choose this subject.  What if she is questioning her own identity and is longing for clearer connection points?  
    If we knew that were the case, would these critical comments be a little more gentle
    and forgiving? I don’t know Jamie, and so have no idea how she identifies.  But I would think this interpretation is plausible. And I am feeling for Jamie.

  20. Thank you for this post! It’s so sad to how the “queer community” has responded to this article instead of seeing what we can glean from it. Speaking for myself, I have noticed how sometimes gay men at Stanford can dominate queer spaces and make for a less-than-welcoming environment for queer women. Jamie, please know that the hostile posts do not represent the entirety of the queer community at Stanford–like Supportive Lesbian, a lot of us appreciate your interest in what I believe IS a problem on Stanford’s campus!

    To those who have been incredibly hostile to Jamie–perhaps your attitudes are contributing the unwelcoming and militant climate at the LGBT center and other queer spaces that make some of us feel like we don’t belong.

  21. To an extent I understand that this article may have caused anger, but as a queer graduate student I have to say my experience feels on a par with Jamie Solomon’s views. I frankly do not feel there is a concrete, outspoken place for me at the school, and I was really surprised (and rather upset) when I saw the rankings in the Princeton Review. I would prefer not to speak for others, but I think a lot of graduate, female-identified queers I’ve met on campus would agree off the record.

  22. That was my thought too. Jamie never stated her sexuality in the article. Some people just made the assumption that she was straight and that her views is how most non-LGBT folks view lesbians on campus. I could see a queer person having the same views and questions.

  23. I’m a bit upset by the backlash caused by this article.  I would wager that one reason lesbians are at a cursory glance hard to find on campus is because some of us, myself included, feel that the mainstream LGBT campus culture does not suit us well.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find the arrogance and condescending self-entitlement of some in the community to be highly discouraging.  It’s understandable in a way, being part of a typically oppressed group can cause people to feel pretty indignant, so they spend time finding fault with others.  I used to ascribe to something similar, but realize it’s a losing game.  I see people come up with a lot of specialized terminology to describe the queer subculture and then call people ignorant for not knowing everything but it’s akin to those horrible research journal papers we have probably all read, it is not outsider friendly although it probably makes you yourself feel scholarly and intelligent.  We all have different approaches to life and activism but trust me, constructing a moral high horse out of shortcomings you find in others is guaranteed to topple you.  Work on making yourself a better person, applaud those who also try to find understanding (such as Jamie), you will be more likable and produce more positive change, end of story.

  24. I’m really curious about the line where you say you rarely make assumptions about women’s sexuality, and so you never ask women about their sexuality if they are being flamboyant and flirtatious, though you do ask men.

    The reason this is interesting to me is that I do think there is maybe a more grounded, culturally reinforced signifier for male homosexuality than for female homosexuality (and possibly more for males than females in general) in America.  There are obviously enormous exceptions to this, but I’ve had several illuminating conversations with gay male friends who discussed how at some point they began “acting gay”, and by this I mean “displaying” their sexuality in ways encouraged by the mainstream gay community (and maybe also by mainstream culture).  There are of course lots and lots of people who would be like this no matter what the surrounding culture was like, and lots who have never had the slightest urge to,  but nonetheless I think that mainstream gay culture has a strong voice in America.

    I don’t think that this phenomenon is as common with women, which, as a lady who has “questioned” her sexuality before, I have experienced as both good and bad.  It means that you are in some ways freer.  There are maybe a few predefined “roles” (butch, femme) for you to experiment with, and all sorts of terms and spectrums, but to me they seem subtler and maybe just a little bit less culturally established for women…  I think it might be (and ladies, feel free to correct me) this quality of queer experience that so many people in this comment section have felt compelled to defend.  The privilege of being yourself, and not having to act out your sexuality and put it into a box, is indeed a wonderful thing – something to be worked towards and enjoyed no matter how you identify sexually.  No wonder so many queer women on this thread are trying to defend that privilege.  It’s something I think straight-identifying women (and men) would benefit from defending more often.

    BUT I also think, speaking from personal experience only, that this very fluidity, subtlety, and freedom makes things a little bit harder in certain ways.  If you’re questioning your own sexuality or even if you’d just like to hear more about the life experience of a lesbian woman, it might be nice to be able to find someone, a friend, an acquaintance, maybe someone in your acappella group :), who IS loud about her sexuality.  And it would maybe be ever better if there were several women you knew who were just plain obviously lesbians, no matter how that came across.  It’s much more comforting and less weird-feeling to approach a living, breathing person that you know than having to go through more formal things, like a center or a lunch (though both of these things are wonderful!).

     So I definitely see both sides of the issue, and I think it’s always good to talk about things like this and to think deeply about them with an open mind, even if some people get upset.  Keep writing.

  25. To everyone that’s responded to my article through this website, facebook, and email:
    Thank you.
    The point of this article was to ask questions, look for answers, and generate discussion and that has happened. I’m immensely pleased to find out that there are lots of queer women (thank you for that terminology- it’s not a term I knew, but it much more accurately describes what I was trying to get at than lesbian- I just didn’t know how to say it) at Stanford, that there is a thriving community and that queer women do have safe spaces at Stanford. I’m also grateful for the invitations to come to events- I will try (but I’m not taking classes right now and I live a few cities away, so I’m not sure when the next chance I’ll get will be.)
    However, I think I also owe a big apology to a lot of the readers of this article. I’m really sorry to everyone that I’ve offended, everyone whose feelings of marginalization I’ve contributed to, and to everyone whose exhaustion I’ve contributed to that feels tired of explaining who they are and how they want to be treated. I recognize that I have a lot of learning to do in this area (and that there are probably things in this response that people will find objectionable.)
    I would be overjoyed if someone wrote an op-ed in response to this article. I think the mistakes that I’ve made are common ones and that, given how strong the response has been to this article from women in the queer community, I should not have the last public word on this. As Cris mentioned, I’m a bit afraid that I’ve provoked the LGBT community but the discussion that is resulting is not crossing over into the whole school. I’ve had a number of responses from people that share my query, but I’m not sure that they’re likely to look at the article and comments online (through which I’m learning a lot and I think a lot of other people could too.) I think an article from someone who’s strongly within the community would help show them that there is a community and how not to marginalize them in the way that I accidentally have.
    A note on language: I’m sorry for using terminology that hurts or is inaccurate and I thank you guys for trying to help me shape my language so that it is more inclusive and allows people the freedom to present themselves as they want. However, one of the things that reactions to this piece is bringing up is that people feel pushed out of or unwelcome in the queer community because they are constantly afraid/ tired of being called out on their use of language. It’s a balancing act between enforcing open language and opinions and creating a space where people are not afraid to speak up. A lot of the reactions to my piece were very harsh, which makes me a little bit afraid to engage in this kind of dialogue. There are ways to make open opinions and language the norm without anger. Acknowledging that it’s a learning process instead of penalizing people seems like it would go a long way in allowing people to talk about queer issues openly.
    I wrote this article seeking answers and I got a lot of them, but I still have some questions. From the response it is clear that queer women exist at Stanford, many feel very comfortable being open about their sexuality, and there are safe spaces for queer women. I’m really happy that the answer is that the problem is that my experience hasn’t included enough women that I know identify as queer and not that Stanford lacks them. However, this still doesn’t answer why I’ve only been aware of a few people that identify as queer women when I know so many queer men. For example, if you look at the people that I know through where I’ve lived on campus (which is largely but not quite a random cross-section of the population) I’ve lived with a lot more people that I know are queer who are male than female. Now I know that if I try to seek out queer women I can find them and if I want to join that community it exists. But I’m still puzzled as to why, for someone who doesn’t seek out this community, the queer women’s community seems so quiet.

  26. I believe she said something akin to “I hang out with people in theatre and a cappella and I know a lot of gay men from that, but few gay women”. It makes no assumptions about all gay men are found there, just states that she knows more than a few from that community. 

  27. Hi Jamie! Just wanted to give you some support for writing this. As a person, feminist, and queer woman, I’d love to see more queer women visibility at Stanford/in the world. It’s not just by chance that you know so many more gay men. And thanks for handling your surprise intro to queer studies with grace. I agree that anger won’t get us very far.

  28. So eloquent.  Thank you for this wonderful, thoughtful reply.  I’ve noticed there’s a lot of self-congratulation and condescension amongst the vocal, liberal queers on this campus (especially – like you so aptly point out – amongst those who use all that jargon when describing their minority identities).  Jamie’s article could have benefitted from more concise organization and a more confident voice that didn’t so obviously expose that she’s reasonably uninformed.  But I don’t understand, at all, why some people view hostility as an appropriate response to this.  They – not Jamie – are the ones who are narrow-minded.  I applaud Jamie for her bravery and her willingness to engage in discourse, which is exactly what we need.  

  29. Hi Jamie,

    I’m one of the 2 LGBTQ Outreach people in the Office of Undergraduate Admission. I just wanted to let you know that we do make an effort to reach out to students of ALL sexual orientations and gender identities  – not only gay men or lesbians, but also bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students. I’ll be representing Stanford at the Campus Pride LGBT Friendly College Fair in LA this coming Saturday.

    If you have any questions, or suggestions for how we can do a better job of reaching out to queer women, please feel free to get in touch – you can find my email address on Stanford Who.

    Best Regards,
    Aidan Dunn
    Admission Counselor
    Stanford University

  30. Hey Jamie,
    There are a lot of issues at play with why queer women are so often marginalized.  You can get some personal stories by searching for “femme invisibility”, “lesbian invisibility”.  One is that more (queer) men have money/power/voice, aka privilege, than (queer) women; in San Francisco we get a lot of “gay” events that are really for gay men.  Another is that as you were getting at, there are ways in which expectations for gender conformity in men can be very strict and deviations very noticeable.

    I’m giving you ideas and to look up as a starting point though I hope it’s not confusing; I don’t have time or writing ability to say much more.  My favorite writing of a feminist viewpoint on causes and some effects of heteronormative gender expectations can be found in Julia Serano’s book, “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Feminism and the Scapegoating of Femininity”, which there are many good reasons to read.

    One reason for hostility, and why I also felt somewhat frustrated when I read your article despite your obvious good intentions, is that people in a marginalized group very quickly run out of time or energy to continually educate people in the majority who are taking a possibly-temporary interest.  I do want more people to understand the issues here besides those of us directly impacted.  But if you want to have dialogue about queer women, you could do a little reading before writing; it’s not enough to say “correct me if I’m wrong”.  But for future reference that doesn’t apply only to queer women: it applies to any group, visible or not, that is “on the margins” of dominant US society.

  31. I’ll agree on-record, as another queer female-identified grad student, that I don’t find much community or voice for me on campus, though a bit more this year than previous years, and GradQ has been trying.  I see a trend of queer grad students moving to the city, making it a circular problem, and I’ve moved myself; I think the way Stanford groups undergrads makes it hard for grad students to join socially oriented groups.  That’s a different issue though, to me.  I also feel that the atmosphere generated at many grad social events usually feels stiflingly heteronormative among other things; not sure if this is what you meant.

  32. I am a graduate, queer Asian women at Stanford, and I share your feelings that sometimes I feel absolutely isolated — cut in the middle between coming out (without a partner, and even without a chance to meet another queer girl around me) and continue to hide myself among all the heterosexual classmates. I could only blinddate online and get disappointed again and again. I sincerely hope that there will be more open, safe and private platforms where graduate queer students could meet each other. I came to the United States mostly for gay rights, and it seems ironic that I find it harder to meet other gay people here than at home. Maybe is partly because I am an international student, but can’t we do more?

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