College Lesbianage Class of 2016: Starting To Feel Like Home


Wellesley College

I squeezed my eyes shut, blocking out the light streaming in from the window and willing myself not to cry. “Have you been feeling irritated or depressed? That’s another symptom of a concussion,” said the soothing nurse practitioner on the phone.

My voice cracked as I started to respond, and the tears started flowing. “This is normal?” Frick. I hate crying in front of people. I didn’t actually feel sad — my brain just said “produce tears” and my eyes responded instantaneously. I had already cried in front of my girlfriend that afternoon, after getting the concussion. She used to play rugby, and got roped in for one last game because we’re running low on players.

Our rugby team has had bad luck with injuries this season.

We’ve had an ambulance to our practice field three times already. Despite the setbacks, I really love being a part of a team. I’ve even given two of them gay haircuts.

My love for the team hasn’t been enough to keep me healthy, though. I was sick for about two weeks with a throat cold before tackling someone during a game and slamming my head into the ground. I’m still not sure exactly how I managed to make my head hit the dirt with enough force to concuss me, but it happened, and I spent the next week a teary, blinking mess, avoiding bright lights of any kind and doing zero academic work.

Once I got back to classes, I pulled my first college all-nighter to study for my American Politics midterm and I still didn’t feel prepared, even though I love politics and have watched all of the debates so far while proudly sporting an “LGBT for Obama” button.

I am almost calm right now, though. I just walked home from my girlfriend’s dorm room. We’ve been dating for more than a month now, but it’s not getting any easier to leave her for cold textbooks that can’t cuddle back. Her room is also so much more spacious and interesting than mine, even though I have a cool whiteboard.

She has a vast collection of bowties hanging on her wall, and a ceiling border of postcards. She also had enough room to comfortably fit a futon. She is a senior: she was one of the older students helping us move in and get to know the campus during Orientation. I saw her around a few times before we started talking: it’s pretty difficult not to notice the ridiculously cute girl on a unicycle. Getting to know her, and being in a relationship with her, has been pretty damn wonderful.

About two weeks ago, we ventured outside of the Wellesley bubble to get baking supplies from the grocery store. I had my arm slung around her waist and my head on her shoulder when I noticed the family of four walking towards us, looking like they’d just come straight from church. My mouth kept going about the pros and cons of various cake mixes and pie fillings, but in my head, I briefly considered untangling myself from her. I’m glad I didn’t — the family didn’t even bat an eyelash. I know that back home, I wouldn’t feel completely comfortable holding her hand in most public places. I distinctly remember the night I was glared at by multiple people after walking around one of the higher-end outdoor shopping malls with my arm slung around the shoulders of a friend who also happened to have short hair.

Claire and fellow lesbianagette, Kate

Apparently in Massachusetts, and especially on a college campus, people just don’t care. I’m hoping that my dad will absorb the Massachusetts attitude towards queer people while he’s here this weekend: I’m planning on coming out to him. Here’s to hoping it’s no big deal!



Wellesley College

If I hadn’t been such an overachiever and sent in my last column about a week before it was due, I would have been able to tell you my exciting news. I got into the Shakespeare Society on October 14, 2012, at about 12:30am! I can’t tell you anything about the next few days, but suffice to say that it was scary, funny, sweaty, loving, sometimes awkward and always exciting. I auditioned for the show (Henry IV, part 1) and was cast as a Welsh lady and a fighting Scottish Earl. I’m learning how to pronounce Welsh, and I can’t wait to start working on fight choreography.

My Sonnet sister Rachel and I, the moment I got into Shakes

But the best thing has been the people. (And this is where I get really sappy.) If I thought I was happy before, I had no idea what was coming. The thing is, these people don’t know me, not really. But they are kinder to me than people I’ve known for years. A few weeks ago, I had a rough afternoon and my Sonnet sister (that’s like a big sister, in Shakes we have Sonnet families) left the library to hold me and let me cry into her collarbones for 45 minutes. Two Shakers who live on my floor let me come over and be the middle spoon for two and a half hours when I was having a bad day. It took me years to trust people enough in high school to be comfortable enough to cry around them, and all this after only three weeks.

I don’t know what it is about Shakes. I mean, Shakespeare is great, but that’s not all. The fact that so many of us are queer is great, but there are many other queers in the world and especially at Wellesley. Having a key to the Haus (yes, we spell it the German way) is great, cuddling is great, everything’s great and I need another adjective. It’s all the things that happen because of Shakes. It’s that I come to meetings and find a poem and cookies from my Secret Shaker (like a Secret Santa, you give anonymous gifts). It’s that I can find people in the Haus at almost any time of day or night, but it’s still an oasis from the rest of the world. It’s that the older Shakers, and even alums on Facebook and Autostraddle, go out of their way to make newbies feel comfortable and accepted.

My fellow Shaker Lily and I all dressed up for a Murder Mystery Party

It’s that I get to do cool things like stay up until 5am reading Shakespeare with an actor from London. Yeah, you heard me. Five actors from London were performing The Merchant of Venice, and I was crazy excited because I was Portia in Merchant last year. We lured the actors over after their Friday show, and we had a great party but they were a little alarmed by 25 extremely enthusiastic women asking them questions after a long night of acting. But one of them, Michael, was absolutely taken with the House and the Society and expressed interest in coming back the next night. So on Saturday we invited them back, but of all 25 Society members and 5 actors, only Michael and 7 of us showed up.

This turned out to be awesome because he just wanted to talk and see us act. My only party trick is Merchant so (somehow I was brave enough) I told him I’d act with him, if he would. We read the climactic scene and somehow I still knew most of my lines. We finished the scene and I was shaking so hard I couldn’t stand up but he hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek and said I was wonderful.

This is our Haus!

All I can think of to say is that this here, this is my It Gets Better story. I was moderately happy in high school, thanks to an exceptional theatre department and some truly wonderful friends, but it’s one of those situations where I didn’t know I was less happy than I could have been. Now, I’m more productive, I’m relatively well rested and my self-confidence has never been higher. I’ve been studying nirvana and eudaimonia in two of my classes, and I’ve been thinking: this is like reaching nirvana for me — it’s a higher state of being.



The University of North Carolina Greensboro

I’m writing this column from the train, headed back to Greensboro. I’ve just finished Fall Break, and let me tell you guys, the break was much needed. Oi. I’ve been so, so busy since my last column; classes have been catching up to me and I’m actually starting to get a social life and a lot of things have been happening that I should probably fill y’all in on.

For starters, I’ve been hanging out with these two really kickass girls named Laura and Chelsea who have dubbed themselves my “lesbian fairy godmothers.” And really, everyone needs a pair of lesbian fairy godmothers, especially ones as wonderful as mine are; they invite me over to hang out with them, we all cried over the Doctor Who midway season finale together, and they even made me a really awesome, informative powerpoint on the basics of lesbian sex. They’re seriously the best and they’ve been lifesavers during my first months of college.

I’m becoming more and more involved in the Wesley Luther group on campus, and have definitely found a home there; everyone is so loving and inclusive, and the LGBT Bible study that I’ve joined is probably the best thing I’ve found since coming to UNC Greensboro. Our leader, Andrew (affectionately known around here as Big A) knows a lot about queer theology, and looking at the Bible from a queer perspective is really refreshing and great, especially in a state that can be as homophobic as North Carolina. I’ve even been asked about becoming a leader in the Wesley Luther group for the spring semester, and I think I’m going to do it, guys; it just feels right, and I’m so glad I’m able to marry my faith and sexuality together, especially since all my previous experiences at home with religion were less than stellar.

I’m also spending a lot more time with the Deaf community in Greensboro, in particular my new friend named Yuri (who I unfortunately don’t have a picture of, but will next time). My signing is improving, and I recently found out that I passed my first interpreter screening exam to continuing on in my major. Sometimes it’s exhausting and sometimes I question if interpreting is really what I want to be doing, but in the long run I think it’s where I’m supposed to be.

What else? The State Fair’s come to town in NC, and I was thrilled to return again this year; I’ve gone every year since I was a little kid. This year I went with my parents while I was on fall break, then met up with Rachel and we walked around together, rode rides and ate all the fried food our stomachs could handle.

Speaking of Rachel, we’re doing really, really well. We’ve adjusted to the distance and knowing that we’re always a few weeks away from seeing each other is really good. UNC Greensboro is on her list of schools to apply to (along with Vassar College, actually), and while I’m trying my hardest not to influence her decision, there’s a part of me (okay, a huge part) that really hopes she ends up here. Or at Greensboro College, which is right down the road. But we’ve done well about keeping in touch, and the distance isn’t as bad as I had feared.

I’m finally beginning to feel like I’m settling in at UNCG and definitely keeping myself busy, what with classes and gearing up for NaNoWriMo. So when that’s underway I’ll be sure to update y’all on how my novel’s going. So far college is treating me well, and if writing a 50,000 word novel next month while dealing with classes and finals doesn’t kill me, then I think I’m going to be all right.

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Lesbianage has written 9 articles for us.


  1. Raise your hand if anyone else could have really used those fairy godmothers with that powerpoint when you were a freshman.

    Good find, Nita. Good find.

    • Thanks! I thought so myself. :D They’re pretty grand.
      I may ask them about posting the link to the powerpoint here, since it’s pretty great. And Chelsea, one of my fairy godmothers, is the one who convinced me to apply for the Lesbianage thing, and she just texted me telling me she feels famous for being in the column. :D

  2. I am overloading/dying of the cuteness right now. My heart swells for each of you, and I have some form of sheer vicarious pride going on through you that’s really making me smile hardcore right now :)

    I love it! You make us all proud, beautiful people!

  3. Really happy to see that at least one state school/non-ivy league or private college was included–and from the South to boot!

      • Nita, don’t. Or do, but in a good way. While many of the schools referenced above have long, proud lesbian herstories–Vassar, for example, I’m thinking about EStVM in particular, or Ithaca College, where my own girlfriend went for her undergrad five years ago because “she heard they had lesbians and a good film program,” or Bryn Mawr, with its long list of lesbian alum luminaries including Guin Turner–these schools (with the exception of UNC) fail to provide any diversity in terms of socio-economic status. Don’t get me wrong, I know WHY they’re on this list, many of them are among or echo a proud tradition of women’s colleges in America–Vassar in 1865, Smith in 1872, Wellesley in 1875, and Bryn Mawr in 1886–and by extension, serve to represent a visible lesbian presence in academia spanning the past century. I’m disappointed, however, that social class appears to be an overlooked dimension of collegiate experience in this article, most especially, perhaps, when race, sexuality, and gender inclusion are so clearly articulated, if not celebrated. Granted, the goal of this piece may not have been to offer a representative sample/portrait of incoming college lesbians. But with 87% of Autostraddle readers having attended college, I’m surprised that there’s little sensitivity to class dynamics here. Finally, Nita, if you feel like the oddball, embrace it. Your institutional affiliation probably resonates with the majority of that 87%.

        • <3 Thank you so much. And haha, UNCG did actually used to be a women's college way back when. But yeah, I'm totally embracing the oddball–the northern schools don't get to experience the greatness that is Fried Chicken Wednesday in the caf!

  4. So glad to hear from a Vassar lady! I’m a Poughkeepsie native (currently at school in DC), but I feel so at home whenever I’m on Vassar’s campus. The other parts of the city aren’t necessarily queer-friendly, but the Vassar bubble really creates a safe space for so many.

  5. I want Lesbian Fairy Godmothers!!! Okay, well, I have a drag mama. Does that count?
    Anyway, glad to hear things are going well for you girls!
    Claire, best of luck coming out to your dad.

  6. This is goddamn fucking adorable. As terrible as collegiate queeritude was for me (religious school in the South), I’m immeasurably pleased to see you darlings doing so well. Persevere!

  7. Ahhhhhhhhhh CLAIRE I forgot how friggin’ massive (tall) you were. All the young ones are giants. Also, so much love and support being sent your way in coming out! <3 <3 <3

    • Ahaha I am reasonably tall- but I was also wearing heeled boots in that picture. I like to wear stomper boots to election related events because stomping around keeps me happy and allows me to supress some of the rage-y feelings I might otherwise have. Thanks, paper <3

    • I am also teeny-tiny, to the point that I don’t fit into any of the costumes for the Shakes play, nor am I tall enough to make the set happen. I like to think I’m tall, but it’s just not true.

      • Kate, in the Shakes basement there is a *tiny* Juliet costume from the late ’90s/early ’00s. It’s cream with light pink accents and wonderful. Keep an eye out for it (fingers crossed nothing has happened to it). You’d be perfect in it during teas next semester. There’s also the most terrific, tiny fuchsia prom dress that has teas written all over it down there.

        So glad you made it in!
        (’05, Sonnet 23)

        • A – I thiiink I’ve seen both of those dresses around somewhere during the past 4 years, now I want to look.

          also HI SONNET FAMILY, I’m the oldest of our three right now, class of ’13! :DDD

          • Liz, you should totally look and you should totally share them with Kate! And then, pretty please, post back on here to let me know they are not lost. I *loved* those dresses. Also, proving that Shakers are pack rats, when I back for reunion in ’10, there was a polaroid of me in that fuschia dress in one of the kitchen drawers.

  8. Y’all are impossibly adorable. :)
    There’s something about that first October away at college that is pure magic: when you’ve been away from home for a few months and are really settling in, finding your people, and you end up doing the most random/memorable things for fun.

  9. Sunny, you’ll love the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. I’m pretty sure it’s a requirement that you have to be totally adorable and queer to work there, as I’ve always left the store filled with feelings about how cute their employees are.

  10. Alison! Bechdel! EEEEEEE!

    Adorable club haus! EEEEEEE!

    Acceptance! Self actualization! EEEEEEE!

    Also- those who play rugby, I commend you. My cousin nearly lost an ear to the game- and any game in which ear-loss is a distinct possibility is not for me.

    @ Claire, one of my good friends concussed herself in exactly the same way (albeit during a soccer game). It took her a couple of months to come right, but was able to get compassionate consideration and extra writing time in her exams that semester- perhaps something similar is available for you if you need it?

    • I have gotten something very similar- I talked to the first year dean, who helped me talk to my professors, and everyone was very wonderful about letting me get back into academics slowly, and catching up at my own pace. I am very, very grateful, because I was out of it for quite a while.

  11. You all are pretty impossibly cutettractive, and with the good hair. I have yet to find the lesbians here… I’m at University of Idaho… so one of the least queer spaces probably? There’s a few, and they all seem to be permanently paired *sigh.*
    Also, Nita, it’s nice to see someone of faith in the community! I think it’s very cool.
    Also, jeaaaalllllousss of that Haus like nobody else (and by that I mean everyone else, because we’re all dying of envy!)

  12. Ah, this this this. I have read Autostraddle for. ever. without posting anything, but after seeing this series, I have a lot of feels about how awesome all you ladies are and how I wish I had had lesbian fairy godparents.

  13. So Sunny I’m 80% sure I saw you and blonde friend at a Cat Power show a few weeks ago. For reference I was the slightly obnoxious girl sitting in front of you.

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