The once dormant student organization Queer Melanin has re-emerged with a new focus and mission — supporting queer women of color on the Mills campus.
“I think it’s great that Queer Melanin has started up again. For me, personally, I didn’t feel that there were any organizations on campus that encompassed my ethnicity and my sexuality,” said senior Monica Dorado.
The mission of Queer Melanin is to create a space in which transgender, queer and questioning women of color at Mills can gain support, collaborate with one another and increase visibility within their community. The members have created a bond and are working diligently to implement their mission among other women of color at Mills. In an effort to keep the organization active after its senior members graduate, the group decided not to have elected officials, allowing its remaining members to keep things in forward momentum.
“Queer Melanin functions as a support and activist group for queer, closeted, and questioning women of color. We want it to be a place where women of color can talk about sexuality and gender identity,” said senior Alyssa Contreras.
Queer women of color face challenging issues that are unique to them; the biggest challenge includes the commonly held belief among people of color that homosexuality is a social deviance in white culture, according to several members of Queer Melanin. This stereotype is part of the reason the organization was created. The group feels that people need to recognize the parallels between heterosexism, the discrimination against lesbians and gay men by heterosexuals, and racism and sexism.
“I think it’s just been a validating space for me. A space where I can explore my sexuality with other people like myself. I think it will help me as far as putting on events that deal with issues that are specific to the queer community,” said junior Patricia Contreras.
Queer Melanin’s first event took place during Black History Month when they co-sponsored the film festival this February. They were motivated to get involved when they discovered that Black History Month events lacked queer representation.
Another example of how this organization fills an important role on campus was exhibited during a recent Got Beef meeting held in the Solidarity Lounge in mid-March. The meeting was organized to bring collaboration and unity to the women of color on campus. During the meeting, several members of Queer Melanin were present when the issue of homophobia and heterosexism came up at the meeting. Members said they were instrumental in creating an open dialog among the students.
“Part of the mediation process was trying to get them to understand that queerness is separate from whiteness,” said Alyssa Contreras.
“I think Queer Melanin will impact women of color on campus by creating awareness of the intersection between race and sexuality and for a straight woman of color to recognize her own privilege in a society that centers heterosexuality,” said Interim Coordinator for Student Diversity Programs Claudia Pena.