UCR has nearly always had a queer society since 2011, with the aptly named Gay Society. These days, things are a little different, with the more fancily-named Prism. With a board comprising five members, dedicated to actively running a variety of events and projects throughout the semester, it is a LGBTQA+ society that holds its place in the UCR community and amongst the RASA societies. But Prism wouldn’t be able to exist without the LGBTQA+ students (and allies) behind it; a number always expressed as surprisingly high! This Pride Month, we decided to ask some of those students about their experiences of being queer at UCR.
What is it like being queer at UCR?
“It’s very normalized. No one really looks at you differently; it’s kind of like, what’s the big deal. Even those that aren’t used to queerness before they get here get used to it pretty quick.”
“Hecking marvelous.” (The word used was not hecking).
“UCR is a great place to be queer – for once in my life I get to be out to everyone, and I’ve made many queer friends, with whom I can talk about my experiences and be met with understanding.”
“I feel like UCR has a very open community, and I have surrounded myself with so many accepting UCR people [that] I sometimes forget homophobia exists. You can be yourself but also explore who you are with most people here.”
“I think the UCR community is a great place to explore many facets of your identity, and that includes your gender and sexuality. The supportive close knit environment provides a safe place for you to investigate how for example heteronormativity has affected your life, which might lead you to discover something new about yourself. Hell, even I only figured out in my final year at UCR that I was queer, and that was after being a PRISM board member for a year, haha.”
What do you think about the place of Prism in the UCR community?
“I think Prism reflects and spotlights what is already at UCR: a close-knit community!”
“I think it’s nice to have it in such a queer place as this.”
“Prism events can teach things you don’t really learn in school – queer history, literature, and current queer issues, for example – which is super important. But it’s also a society where you can meet others like you and have great fun with various gay shenanigans!”
“I think PRISM plays an important role in the UCR community for all students. Queer students get to explore and celebrate their identity, which is especially important for those who might not have been able to do so before. PRISM also normalizes, advocates for and educates about queer identities to allies, which I think is very important as well.”
What has been your favorite Prism event?
“The Pride event a few weeks ago! As well as the Queer Bookclubs, those are always super fun and interactive.”
“I think I most remember the night of RuSevelt’s Drag Race, and the Gender in the Blender party that PartyTeam hosted after. It’s always a highlight of the year!”
“Getting drunk at the movie nights was pretty fun, but the Pride event at the Bagijnhof field takes the cake, as I met so many cool people, and got to teach some (very interested!) straight friends about queer things.”
“Prism has organized many great events over the past years, so it’s difficult to choose just one. One that will always stay with me is the first PRISM event I attended, during which a lesbian from Jamaica told about her experience of having to flee her country due to the danger and violence she experienced. Another great event was about the intersection of the LGBTQIA+ community and the disabled community. I’ll leave it at that, though I could elaborate much further on many other events!”
In the words of PRISM…