Formation of Queer People of Color Collective offers new safe space

On Thursday, Dec. 10, the Queer People of Color Collective (QPOCC) will conduct its first interest meeting, open to students of color who are Queer, Questioning, Curious, or “DL.” In the interest meeting, students will define what it means to create a safe space for queer students of color in Colorado College. The student-run group will officially begin its functions Block 5.

QPOCC is supervised by Yolany Gonnel, the Director of Residential Life and Campus Activities.

“The formation of QPOCC is one of the administrations initiatives to ‘ensure that we practice what we talk about’,” said Gonnel. “A lot of communities say they love diversity and community, but they don’t practice it.”

QPOCC is meant to serve as a safe space for queer students of color to discuss and come to terms with what it means to be a person of color and queer on a predominantly white campus.

The group will also serve as an opportunity for queer students of color to heal from their negative experiences, explore their identities, and expose themselves to other programs.

The creation of QPOCC is not meant to create a divide between queer students of color and queer white students. QPOCC is meant to give those who need a protective layer a chance to discuss their unique experiences.

“It is a different education,” said Gonnel. “We have a critical mass of students here that identify in a spectrum, [and then] they find themselves in spaces where they are tokenized or do not feel safe to speak their minds. We want to reinforce the idea that it’s okay to reimagine themselves in spaces and identify questions that are important to them.”

Gonnel states her own experiences as a queer woman of color motivated her to start the group.

“Typically I was the only person of color in queer spaces, but once I started being visible, more people of color started participating,” said Gonnel. “It was not a Latina issue—we did not talk about it at home, high school, or college.”

The vision of tomorrow for QPOCC is to cultivate a group of students who will actively mobilize around social equality for all.

Students who are queer will all be able to own their experience on campus and express their individual voice.

The group is not affiliated with the Butler Center, so the students who show up, participate in the discussion, and have an affinity for these issues will shape the group. The goal is to have healing conversations and foster strong connections with other queer spaces such as EQUAL and QCC in hopes of working on initiatives together in the future.

“Nothing that has happened to CC is unique,” said Gonnel. “The difference is the administration. The Butler Center has a brand new staff. For the first time ever you have a queer Latino woman as the head of Residential Life. Change happens sometimes from the top down and other times from the bottom up, and this is a good time because the school is authentic about this work. “

“It’s amazing that we are on a campus where people are speaking loud and clear,” she said. “We are beginning a good foundation for the future. Let queer students of color find their voices and shine.”

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