Columns, Opinion

What Grinds My Gears: Being queer at BU is a lot harder than the university likes to admit

Boston University loves to emphasize how inclusive and diverse it is. And in most areas, that’s the case. The student population is fairly diverse. Neither I nor anyone else I know has ever felt excluded or uncomfortable in a class.

BU Housing, on the other hand, sometimes clashes with the university’s mission. I don’t know a single queer person who hasn’t experienced the struggle that comes with finding a roommate freshman year. There’s a thin veil of homophobia that blankets some students at BU.

To be openly queer with a roommate comes with incredibly challenging consequences. That’s not to say that everyone is homophobic toward their queer roommate or even that every homophobic instance is dramatic.

In fact, most times they aren’t. Homophobia in rooming situations is often subtle, but it’s just as hurtful and jarring. It’s this subtlety that allows BU to boast about its inclusiveness, while hiding homophobia.

One of my friends here (let’s call her Sam) has a girlfriend who goes to Harvard (let’s call her Brandy).  They always hang out in Sam’s room because Brandy isn’t out to her roommate yet. But Sam’s roommate is a nightmare.

Her homophobic atrocities include forcing Sam to pay her so Brandy can come over and harassing Sam for not coming out to her family over spring break.

While this is a more extreme example, it still illustrates the problem that affects the housing at Boston University. If a queer individual doesn’t come out to their roommate, they have to hide their identity which is painful and tiresome. If they decide to come out, then they have the likely potential of being judged or in extreme cases — harassed.

At BU, it’s okay to be gay, but it’s not okay to live with someone who is.

Students think because their roommate is gay means that they are going to be ogled all the time. I have a friend whose roommate started changing in the bathroom after he came out to him. I have another friend whose roommate started wearing a bra to bed for the same reason.

I don’t know why people don’t understand that just because your roommates is queer doesn’t mean that they are going to be attracted to you. In fact, they most likely won’t be.

What I think gets lost is that it’s their roommate’s home too. Why would they want to do anything that would jeopardize the comfort and safety of their home? Queer people just want to live their lives.

They are not concerned about the fact that you change in the room or walk around in just a bra and underwear. They’re most likely cramming for test, eating a meal or watching Netflix. Queer people often don’t let their identity define their problems, but for some reason everyone else sees the queerness as the problem.

Someone else’s sexuality shouldn’t concern others because it doesn’t affect them in any way. When students start implementing new rules because their roommate felt brave enough to come out to them, it creates an unwelcome environment for the queer student, which is just as damaging as any other form of homophobia.

While it’s impossible to ask for all homophobia to disappear, it’s not unreasonable to ask for better housing arrangements for queer students. While BU does offer gender neutral housing, I think it can be taken a step further.

First, freshmen should be allowed to partake in the program. Additionally, not all queer students want to live with someone from the opposite sex. There needs to be an option for students of all grades in the LGBTQ+ community to find each other and live together.

With the way the system works now, there needs to be more housing options for queer students because no one should feel unsafe or uncomfortable in their home.

One Comment

  1. Agree. This happened to me in high school changing rooms, it is a very jarring and awkward experience.