Admin slams 'homonormative whiteness' of LGBTQ Centers

Toni Airaksinen
New York Campus Correspondent

  • Despite being designed as “inclusive” spaces, one university administrator claims that many campus LGBTQ Centers are bastions of “homonormative whiteness.”
  • Jonathan Pryor interviewed 8 LGBTQ students, some of whom even found things like the pride flag problematic, because it represents "a specific White gay ideal, one not representing trans, non-binary people, and people of color.”
  • Despite being designed as “inclusive” spaces, one university administrator claims that many campus LGBTQ Centers are bastions of “homonormative whiteness.”

    In an academic journal article published Monday, Assistant Director of LGBTQIA Programs & Services at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Jonathan T. Pryor argues that LGBTQ students feel marginalized on his campus, even in spaces designed to support them, such as Greek Life and the school’s LGBTQ Center.

    "He felt that the focus on rainbow flags represented a specific White gay ideal, one not representing trans, non-binary people, and people of color."   

    Such students feel marginalized, Pryor says, because those institutions intrinsically perpetuate “homonormative whiteness” by “upholding power for White, Christian, able-bodied, and middle-class people.”

    [RELATED: Prof says algebra, geometry perpetuate white privilege]

    After interviewing eight LGBTQ students, Pryor learned that Greek Life was a source of particular consternation, noting that the presence of Greek Life flags in the student center and the proximity of Greek houses to campus made some students especially uncomfortable.

    One student, Jackson—identified as a queer, black, trans man—pointed out to Pryor the strong presence of Greek Life flags hung in the school’s student center.

    “By featuring these organizations in such a visible way, the campus is communicating the importance of fraternity and sorority membership,” Pryor lamented. “What would it mean for the campus to hang all the LGBTQ pride flags in that space? Questions likely not considered in such a heterogendered environment.”

    [RELATED: Northwestern wants ‘social justice education’ for frats, sororities]

    The school gym can also marginalize LGBTQ students, Pryor discovered, saying that although the school gym is open to all students, it is not “not particularly accessible” for gay students because of the “pressure to be fit” and the “expectations of manliness.”

    Jeremy, a gay white cisgender male student, mentioned that locker rooms are similarly problematic, telling Pryor that they “represent a space dominated by straight cisgender men, where masculinity is rewarded, heterosexuality is supported by sexist and homophobic comments, and athleticism is attributed to a specific body and masculinist nature.”

    [RELATED: Berkeley student fees fund $2.7M gender-neutral locker room]

    To fight this, Pryor calls for colleges to “escape these exclusionary practices” and “begin moving toward practices that center LGBTQ lives in all areas of campus,” asserting that “Institutions can begin to dismantle these traditions through intentional and disruptive efforts to truly center the experiences of LGBTQ communities.”

    Even something as well-intended as a rainbow flag can be problematic, he notes, pointing out that one student he interviewed “felt that the focus on rainbow flags represented a specific White gay ideal, one not representing trans, non-binary people, and people of color.”

    His article was published in the latest issue of the Journal of LGBT Youth alongside articles about alleged “Gender Panics about Transgender Children” and another article about “Gender Non-Conforming Microaggressions.”

    Campus Reform reached out to Pryor for comment, but he declined.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen





    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    New York Campus Correspondent
    Toni Airaksinen is a New York Campus Correspondent, where she reports on free speech issues and social justice research. She is a senior at Barnard College, majoring in Urban Studies and Environmental Science. She is also a columnist for PJ Media, and formerly held a post with USA TODAY College, The Columbia Spectator, and Quillette.
    More By Toni Airaksinen

    Latest 20 Articles