Shanequa Lassiter ‘14, author of the WGS 340 Archival Project: Black Manifesto to QuEST Manifesto student paper written in 2014, is shown here photographed for the Gender and Sexuality Programs Feminist Photography Project. Her self-written board states “I need feminism because as a queer woman of color my voice is still excluded from major decisions”. Although both QuEST and BCD were lead by queer Black women at this time, perhaps Lassiter’s overall critique of society was a foreboding warning of what was to come at Lafayette.
In 2018, the student created organization Queer People of Color, more commonly known as QPOC was founded. The two women who began this organization did so in response to both the lack of representation in Quest and other identity groups on campus focused on race. In acknowledging that “ultimately white LGBTQ culture and Black LGBTQ culture [are] very different” from each other, the two students felt like it was crucial to create the safe space on campus that was not being held for queer students of color by Quest (Newman). However, as per the course with BCD, one of the founders recalls how she faced pushback from administration and specifically Student Government in the creation of the club where both founders “[had to] explain to a lot of people that [Lafayette] is a predominantly white space and we need a space for people of color to feel comfortable,” despite the existence of other sexuality clubs on campus (Newman).
The fall semester of 2018 saw the club’s first school wide event come into fruition after a semester long planning period with the first annual QPOC Art Fest. Heralded as ‘Creating a space, visibility, and accessibility for people of color in the arts’, the Art Fest was a space where all students were welcomed to engage with a multitude of art mediums as an introduction to the club.
While still battling the space of hypervisibility and silence, QPOC engages with this in a way that previously Quest and BCD has not. By choosing to have school wide events such as the Art Fest, while also hosting annual kickbacks and roundtable discussions created specifically for queer people of color and their allied communities, QPOC has found a way to put themselves in the spotlight only when they see it fit, and to choose silence in the times when it feels appropriate to preserve and protect their culture, community, and safety.