Section: Opinion

Don’t be so proud of our pride

“Visibility is false empowerment.” For the past two and a half years, I have been looking to place these words. In that time, they have driven me to an impasse, haunting my ideals of justice for our community.

They are the same words that I repeated this past Saturday, my brow quivering in fear and rage, when a close friend asked that I refrain from writing this op-ed. She charged, rightfully, that my words might detract from the celebration of the LGBTQ community. For her, conversations about justice seemed less significant than the College’s intentions. “This will be the first time that we can show solidarity,” she insisted. 

Who is included in solidarity? Who is counted among our peers? These questions are ones that are not asked often. They are questions that threaten to pull back the veil, revealing our solidarity to be nothing but an illusion.

Those individuals opposed to my op-ed agreed, on separate occasions, that Kenyon has never been a home to transgender students or queer students of color. If it has, then their significance has not amounted to much in the eyes of Pride’s defenders. “We don’t have queer alumni of color.” “We don’t have transgender students.” They offered these statements as justification for the selection of this weekend’s headliners and speakers, who, at the time of my writing, are entirely white and cisgender. The logic of these justifications is distressing. It is a logic that gives support to institutions that perpetuate the exclusion of transgender people and queer people of color.

Next weekend, there will be a silence to which many will pay no attention. In this silence is another version of our history, which says that the comforts and liberties of gay, white conservatives have always been afforded by the exclusion of transgender people and people of color. Next weekend will naturally deliver its hot commodity: a respectable LGBTQ “diversity,” free from the realities of racism, classism and gender discrimination.

Over the course of the next weekend, more transgender women of color will be murdered. More queer undocumented youth will be denied funding for higher education — education that we will, in the meantime, squander by our immense privilege. (This is the same privilege that sanctions the selection of only white and cisgender voices — that allows us to see everything beginning with marriage equality.)

The narratives we share about ourselves will have afterlives beyond this hill. That we have made our celebration of Pride into a celebration of white, cisgender people alone is farcical. It is dangerous. That the students and staff administering this event have yet to respond to calls for wider representation is irresponsible.

Accordingly, I speculate that our Pride will remain whitewashed. Our Pride will remain cisgendered. Our Pride will remain veiled in the politics of respectability. And it is this Pride, I hope, that will be dared to account for its erasures.

Sam Lagasse ’16 is an English and religious studies major from Stamford, Conn. Contact him at lagass


Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at