As stated on the University of Cincinnati’s Homecoming webpage, “This year’s homecoming marks two reasons to celebrate. Beyond the annual ‘coming home’ by thousands of UC alumni to reconnect with their university and one another, this season the Bearcats football team and its fans are ‘coming home’ to a newly renovated and expanded Nippert Stadium…”
Homecoming is defined as “an act of returning to your home or to a place that is like your home” on Merriam-Webster.com. As a graduating senior, I wanted to partake in Homecoming festivities this year (for the first time). However, instead of being welcomed, I was openly excluded from celebrating with my fellow Bearcats.
This started at the football game. My girlfriend and I walked hand in hand to the game with friends. We made our way to four open spots in the student section and stood to begin cheering on the team. My girlfriend and I kissed for a brief moment and no more than ten minutes later, an older White man came down directly to her and I, stating that we were in his seats. I told him that we were not and that we would not be moving. He then said, “Are you going to make me get the seat marshal?” I responded with a blunt, “Yes.” He left to get the marshal and my friends started talking about what we should do. We ended up not waiting for him to return, but instead, moved to a different section.
Seeing that I was still visibly upset with what had just happened, my girlfriend suggested that we leave and go eat.
The heteronormative nonsense continued into the evening while my girlfriend and I walked around campus. The catcalls reverberated with full force throughout the night. On Calhoun, we were asked, “Where Homecoming was?” and when we responded with “We don’t know.” We were called liars and followed ten paces. When deciding to ignore other cat calls, comments such as, “Oh y’all just wanna holds hands so that we won’t holler at you?” To top it all off, members of a fraternity decided to sing to us after we communicated that we weren’t interested in them. About ten of their members walked half a block singing to us rambunctiously.
Although some of the evening I was able to enjoy with my girlfriend and friends, most of the evening reminded me that as a Black lesbian woman, I was not welcome in these spaces. It made me wonder, why should I give back to or invest my time in a community that does not want me there. I have found small nooks and crannies where I am allowed to be myself and am celebrated for it (LGBTQ Center, Women’s Center & WILL, Ethnic Programs & Services & Darwin T. Turner Scholar Program).
In relation to WILL, I feel that my Consciousness of Self is at a healthy level. However, Consciousness with Civility (in many of these aforementioned circumstances) is something that I hope to improve with my involvement in WILL. It is hard to discern when it is safe to speak out against exclusion of identities
Tyra Robinson is a 1st year WILLer and Graduating Senior majoring in Communication.