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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Ask the Queer Resource Center!

Published: October 23, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.

Do you have questions about gender, sexuality, diversity, or acceptance? Would you like anonymous advice from friendly peer counselors?

Check out the Queer Resource Center, the educational branch of Triskelion, the Brandeis LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual/ally) group. We provide free, confidential peer counseling to people of all identities, in Shapiro Campus Center room 328, Mondays through Fridays from 1 to 5 PM.

Now you can have your questions answered anonymously in print! Submit a question to “Ask the QRC” at Put “Hoot” in the subject line, and you’ll see your question addressed anonymously in next week’s paper!

Dear QRC,

A lot of the terms that I hear in gender classes seem to come mainly from white queer communities. Could you give some examples of queer-related terms specific to communities of color?

-Diverse in DeRoy

Dear “Diverse,”

Good question; a lot of students share your frustration, and traditions of queer communities of color are often not given as much attention as they should in the world of queer academics. Here are some examples of terms that the QRC teaches.

Stud/Fem: Terms generally used in the Latina community to refer to more masculine (Stud) and more feminine (Fem) role in a lesbian relationship.

Two-Spirit: Traditionally referring to a “third sex”, Two Spirit people are Native Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles, including wearing the clothing and performing the work of males and females. This may or may not include sexuality. They are considered to have two spirits in one body: one being feminine and the other, masculine. This term is often used as a means of adding spirituality to white, academic queer terms.

MSM: Men who have sex with men. Used often to refer to those who engage in this sexual activity but do not identify as gay or queer. MSM was developed for classification purposes during the beginning of the AIDS era, and was reclaimed by many African-American and Latino MSMs who don’t identify with/reject white gay American culture.

Mariposa: Spanish word for butterfly. The term is also commonly used in Spanish-speaking cultures in the same way as the American term of “faggot.” In some communities, it has been reclaimed, but most commonly it is quite offensive.



Dear QRC,

I heard the QRC mention “Polyamory” in a dorm rap, but I don’t understand what it means. How is it different from just sleeping around?

-Monogomous in Massell

Dear “Monogomous”,

The Queer Resource Center defines polyamory as consensual non-monogamy. In other words, polyamory is carefully negotiated between partners. Polyamorous relationships take many different forms, and may involve multiple committed sexual and/or romantic relationships. In addition, many polyamorous relationships involve one or more committed relationship(s), and carefully negotiated sexual encounters outside the primary relationship.

The key here is that these relationships are carefully negotiated; partners discuss what they are comfortable with, and there must be a significant level of communication in order to maintain a polyamorous relationship. There is certainly stigma surrounding polyamory, as it is a commonly believed in our society that people should be in (or at least end up in) a committed relationship with one person, that it is impossible to be fully committed to more than one person, or that having sex with multiple partners is wrong. If you or you and your partner are interested in polyamory, or you’re already in a polyamorous relationship, the QRC has great resources and trained peer counselors to help with discovering what type of relationship you’re interested in, and how to negotiate those relationships.



Dear QRC,

I think it’s great that you exist, but I’m curious about where the QRC comes from and why it exists. Do all colleges have a QRC?

-Historian in Hass

Dear “Historian”,

Great question! The Queer Resource Center was born six years ago out of Triskelion, Brandeis’s queer and allied group. Members of Trisk felt that the Brandeis queer community needed an established, confidential space designed to deal with one-on-one support for students, psychological discussions, and promotion of queer education for the community. The Brandeis QRC is similar to many other organizations at various small liberal arts colleges, although it is somewhat unique in its use as a peer counseling center as well.

The QRC was created in the memory of Robert J. Bookston ’00, who sadly killed himself at the age of 19 after a long struggle with depression. While at Brandeis, he was community leader who was committed to promoting inclusivity on campus.

The QRC tries to emanate Bookston’s own words: “I encourage you to move beyond what is comfortable, beyond what is familiar, because to learn you must expose yourself to what you do not already know…Examine the world through someone else’s eyes. Walk down a foreign path. Question what you most firmly believe.”