Posted June 2022
From the minute Christa Rose (CAS‘22) stepped on campus, she knew she wanted to be involved with the Queer community at BU. Luckily, it didn’t take long for her to find the Queer Activist Collective, also known as the “Q”, a student organization that ensures awareness, visibility, and full inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community. Christa was quick to join the Q’s E-Board and has since helped implement dozens of initiatives and resources for her fellow terriers.
Now, having served as the Q’s president for multiple years, Christa reflects on pride month, her time at BU, and her work within the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get involved with Q?
I’m the outgoing President of Q and have served on Q’s Executive Board since the second semester of my first year. Sadly, I graduate this August so I’m reaching the end of my work with Q as a student. I majored in neurobiology and minored in psychology, and I’m also in the Biology department’s BA/MS program working toward my MS in biology. Outside of school and Q, I do research on campus in the Laboratory of Comparative Cognition. After graduating, I hope to research the therapeutic uses of psychedelics as well as continue my LGBTQ+ advocacy and community organizing work.
In search of the Queer community I was missing in high school, I joined Q as soon as I got to BU. After having my own experiences as a BU student and hearing the experiences of others, I started to notice areas where BU was severely lacking in regards to LGBTQ+ inclusivity. I also noticed that Q was not doing all it could be to support LGBTQ+ students in the absence of institutional support. I decided to join the E-Board with the support of other dedicated students and started many different initiatives on campus.
What are some of your favorite events or memories you’ve made with Q?
It’s so hard to pinpoint only a few, but some more recent events that stand out to me include the BIPOC Wellness Fair, Gays & Grads: The Last Drag Brunch, and a lecture by Dr. Roderick Ferguson (he/him) called “The Anti-racist Roots of Queer & Trans Activism: A History of Direct Action & the Body.” These events encompass my favorite work that Q does, which is bringing awareness to and providing resources, creating uplifting and affirming community spaces, and educating the BU community on LGBTQ+ history and allyship. I would be remiss not to mention another notable memory I’ve made through Q, which is meeting my partner of 3+ years, who is also Q’s outgoing VP. (BU Today I hope you’re reading this—this is a shameless plug to feature us in your Finding Love on Comm Ave article.).
How has your work with the Queer Activist Collective impacted your college experience?
The work I’ve done with Q has entirely shaped my college experience. The majority of my time outside of class has been spent working on Q initiatives and programming. This work has been incredibly challenging due to the difficulty in creating institutional change, but also so rewarding when I see the impact Q has had on students’ lives. My experiences as a first-gen and low-income college student and Queer, Latinx, gender non-conforming person has made college considerably more challenging for me, and without creating intersectionally inclusive and affirming Queer spaces, I definitely would not be graduating this August.
How have you seen the LGBTQIA+ community change through your years at BU?
I have seen an incredible growth of resources available to LGBTQ+ students due to the advocacy and efforts of students in the Queer Activist Collective over the past 4 years. We created a committee to advocate for safer and more affirming BU Housing for transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) students at BU and successfully petitioned for BU Housing to change their policy and allow incoming first-year students to live in gender-neutral housing. We created the Gender-Affirming Product Program and through it have provided over 75 gender-affirming products to TGNCI students who could not otherwise access them. We’ve created numerous LGBTQ+ resource guides to allow students to easily access resources such as therapy, support groups, changing their name in BU’s systems, food assistance, housing support, STI/HIV testing, and so much more. In 2020, we started an annual BU Pride celebration during June. We collaborated with the LGBTQIA+ Faculty & Staff Community Network to create the BU Out List as well as BU’s first-ever Lavender Ceremony.
Today, we continue to host over 30 events each semester that bring the community together and provide uplifting and affirming spaces to celebrate Queer joy. We also continue to advocate for institutional LGBTQ+ resources and support at BU, including a professionally staffed LGBTQ+ resource center for students and an option for students to change their name and gender marker through a streamlined process. We have formed an LGBTQ+ BU Student Task Force that aims to replicate the data collection processes and analyses conducted by the BU LGBTQIA+ Faculty & Staff Task Force in 2018-2019, but with a focus on students.
Tell us more bit about the BU Out List.
The BU Out List is a resource that was created with the goal of promoting visibility, connectedness, and sharing of resources among LGBTQ+ faculty, staff, students, and the larger BU community. LGBTQ+ faculty and staff members are invited to create a profile to share their expertise, support, and guidance. Students are encouraged to use the Out List to find mentors and connect with the resources the faculty and staff have to offer.
The initiative came to life in June of 2020 when I reached out on behalf of Q to the newly-formed LGBTQIA+ Faculty & Staff Community Network. That year was Q’s 10-year anniversary, and while reflecting on our accomplishments, we realized that a detriment to our club was our lack of connection with LGBTQ+ staff and faculty. We reached out to the FSCN asking if they would be interested in collaborating with us to create a campus-wide Out List, and from there we formed the Out List Committee comprised of BU faculty, staff, and students who worked to make it a reality.
How have you seen the BU Out List positively impact LGBTQIA+ students?
The BU Out List has been able to help students connect with folks who share similar identities and interests as them, but who may be a little further along in their careers. This has created numerous opportunities for mentorship, which is incredibly meaningful, especially for students who do not have older role models, who are first-generation college students, or who feel they are currently unable to be themselves in their respective fields of study. Not only seeing successful Queer professionals but having the opportunity to connect with them to receive their advice, guidance, and support has been invaluable to so many students, myself included.
How do you like to celebrate Pride month?
I like to celebrate Pride month by taking action and continuing to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, as well as acknowledging LGBTQ+ history and recognizing the generations of Queer and trans activists of color who dedicated their time and often their safety to the cause of Queer liberation. For many, Stonewall comes to mind as the most well-known display of Queer liberation, but Queer liberation has a long and messy history: a history that makes the dedication of intersectional Queer and trans activists even more profound. Organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front, Queer Nation, the Gay and Latino Alliance, the Lesbian Avengers, the Combahee River Collective, and many other organizations and activists created and maintained an intersectional liberation movement; they persisted when organizations in the Queer community wanted to assimilate and center those who could fit into normative standards. We truly would not be where we are today without these individuals and organizations, and it is imperative that we acknowledge them this month and every month.
In what ways can the BU community celebrate or participate in Pride month?
The BU community can recognize Pride month by educating themselves on the issues LGBTQ+ folks face and take action when we call on them to do so. It is the responsibility of allies to listen when we speak, interrupt the dangerous power dynamics which place us in harm’s way, value us, and uplift us. To start, I encourage folks to read this article written by members of Q last year on how to be a better ally to the trans community. Q often hosts educational workshops on allyship and Queer history, and I encourage everyone to attend these. Allies should familiarize themselves with the work Q does, as well as support and bring more visibility to that work.
What are some recent alums of the BU Queer Activist Collective up to now?
Recent alums of Q have gone on to continue doing incredible work for the LGBTQ+ community. Notably, we have alums working for the The Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ youth, which advises others in state government on effective policies, programs, and resources for LGBTQ+ youth, as well as the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts, which provides critical assistance to low-income trans folks in MA. Other alums are still looking to get involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy work off-campus, so feel free to reach out to Q at email@example.com with any opportunities we can share!
We also encourage all LGBTQ+ alumni to take our brief and anonymous survey to help us gauge LGBTQ+ inclusivity at BU over the years so that we can create informed recommendations for the University.