The Claremont Indecent: Putting yourself out there, one step at a time

Two girls sit at a table drinking boba. They are looking lovingly at each other, surrounded by heart decorations.
(Bella Pettengill • The Student Life)

There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. No, I’m not breaking up with you. But there is someone else… 

Sleepless on Sixth Street isn’t the only one with good sex advice on these campuses. That’s right, you’re getting two columnists for the price of one this semester! Lucky for you, you’ll get to hear twice as many embarrassing stories and two different perspectives on every question that you send in. Pretty sick deal, if you ask me.

Now, let me get on with my first story. Coming into college, I had just ended my first ever relationship, and with a girl, no less. After a blissful three months — and then a super awkward public breakup at Shake Shack — your girl was ready to see what the Claremont Colleges had to offer. 

When deciding on schools, everyone told me that the 5Cs were suuupppeeerrr queer. But once I got to college, I wasn’t sure how to go about finding true, gay love when I only knew, like, three people going in, and I had no high school experience to draw on. Yes, in high school, it was easy for word to get around that you liked someone or that someone liked you. But there were also about five openly out queer girls at my school, so … it wasn’t the ideal scene. 

After a winter break full of urges to text my ex (and my friends not letting me), I was raring to get back to campus. I was going to Put Myself Out There. Eventually. Slowly but surely. 

And finally, in February, it happened. I started talking to someone — a girl. An enthusiastic mutual friend who knew we were both a little shy introduced us. After some silly text exchanges, we had the classic Claremont first date — a walk into the village for boba at Tea & Joy. I think she may have paid for mine, or I may have paid for hers. I can’t remember, because I was so enthralled in our conversation, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was so nice to get to know her that day, and I was grateful to our mutual friend for giving us a little push of encouragement. We made plans to hang out that coming Saturday night. 

This wasn’t a normal weekend, though. It was parents’ weekend — old people and younger siblings abounded. Not only did I have to navigate my mom around during the day, I also had to navigate the time of year: It was nearing Valentine’s Day! It seemed like all the parties that weekend were Valentine’s themed, but I tried not to think too much about it.

Saturday night rolled around, and my friends and I arrived at an extravagantly-decorated Valentine’s party on a Scripps balcony. Hanging from the walls were blow-up hearts alongside other blow-up body parts. After a funny conversation starter, the two of us hung out and talked under a blow-up the whole night. 

After a while, we decided to head back to my room. We both had roommates, but by some grace of St. Valentine, mine was away with her sports team. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of sincere moments. 

At the end of the night, as we were lying side by side and exchanging a mutual “that was great,” she said something so softly and nonchalantly that it took me a few seconds to process: “I’ve been meaning to experiment since coming to Scripps!” 

My stomach dropped. A million questions started running through my head. 

Was any of the past week genuine? Was I being used as a part of someone’s personal experiment? I didn’t know how to respond. I think I tried to play it off and act cool until she left, but I was really hurt. I wish my hookup had mentioned that this was an experiment to her before I’d started to catch feelings. 

Now, I’m not trying to say that people shouldn’t explore their queerness in a way that is safe and comfortable for them; I’m all for that. However, this exploration shouldn’t be done at the expense or confusion of others.

College, and the 5Cs in particular, can be a wonderful, accepting and safe place for queer and questioning students. It’s also a privilege to feel safe here as a queer student when not everyone can around the country and world. College can be a great time to start to reconsider and explore your sexuality. I just hope that you can prioritize honesty with whomever it is you’re exploring with. 

Being straightforward, even when it seems difficult or awkward, is definitely the way to go. And when it comes down to it and you need to have a tough conversation with someone, don’t do it at Shake Shack. 


Cross-Campus Pining

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