“Are you queer?!” a belligerently drunk person asked one of my peers, to which they answered “No.” Soon after another person asked the same question, several of my straight-identifying friends decided it would be best for them to leave. This was the first queer party I’d ever been to at college, and I did not want to leave so early. When I tried to convince them to stay, one of them said they didn’t want to intrude. This decision made me sad, but I understood where they were coming from — if I were in their shoes, I would also be inclined to leave.
For many LGBTQ people, parties specifically for queer people are an exciting departure from the predominantly heteronormative party culture at the 5Cs. These parties, often referred to by students as “queggers,” are meant to provide a space for socialization occupied mostly by queer people. These spaces are necessary because they allow LGBT students to mingle with people who share their identity and lived experiences. It also enables queer students to more easily find romantic and sexual partners, which can prove challenging at parties comprised mostly of straight people.
However, trying to cultivate a safe space for LGBTQ-identifying people by advertising and policing these parties to be queer-only spaces may exclude straight-identifying, closeted and questioning students, and also complicate the experience at queer parties for some LGBTQ individuals.
Coming out is a highly personal decision, the timing of which can be affected by numerous factors, including one’s family, friends, environment, religion and much more. Personally, I lived in a liberal city, attended a progressive school and have a loving and hardly religious family, all of which probably made coming out during high school easier for me than most. However, to think that just because I came out in high school, every college freshman should also be comfortable in their identity would be a privileged and ignorant assumption to make. For the same reason, it is problematic for queer students to tell our straight-identifying peers not to come to queer parties and question the identities of people who attend.
When closeted, many queer people — including myself — have experienced what it’s like to feel isolated and unsettled by others’ recognition of the straight identity they purport. Queer people — including myself — also know how terrifying it feels to be interrogated about an identity they’ve yet to make public or come to terms with. How, then, can we as queer students potentially do the same in good conscience to our straight-identifying and closeted or questioning peers? Queer parties provide spaces for LGBTQ people to explore their sexuality, and the same opportunity should be extended to people who have not come to terms with, or are even aware of, their queerness.
Another consideration is that some queer people have many straight friends and want to bring them to these parties. Speaking personally, my straight friends at Pomona are accepting of me and I feel I can be myself around them. I feel most comfortable at parties when I’m with my close friends, many of whom are straight, and it’s unfortunate that I am forced to choose between going out with them and going to queer parties.
Lastly, if queer party culture discourages non-queer people from attending, it could make straight- and cisgender-passing queer people uncomfortable. For example, transgender couples with a man and a woman may face judgment because they pass as cisgender and straight, which creates a barrier for them to attend. In the same way that queer people shouldn’t need to conform to heteronormative conventions to fit in at parties, queer people shouldn’t have to try to “look” queerer to fit in at queer parties.
It is paramount to ensure that queer people have parties they feel safe at; it is equally important not to exclude other queer people in the process of fostering those spaces by discouraging straight and cisgender people from attending. Perhaps there can be parties that are explicitly queer affinity spaces, but considering the people who these types of parties exclude, not every queer party should be an affinity space. I am not arguing that we should encourage straight people who have nefarious intentions to attend, such as straight men who fetishize queer women; they undermine the purpose of queer parties by making people feel unsafe.
However, it’s unfair to assume that every straight person will make the space uncomfortable solely because they are straight. Therefore, we should encourage both queer people and allies to come to queggers that are not affinity spaces and deal with those who attend for the wrong reasons on a case-by-case basis. Doing so will broaden the appeal of queer parties to allies, questioning people and straight- and cisgender-passing queer individuals, and thus make them more inclusive.
Porter Reyes PO ’25 is from Manhattan, New York. He is a political junkie and New York Times Spelling Bee “Genius” who enjoys internet drama.