About Wesleyan University’s Open House

(archive)

Wesleyan has had program housing for LGBT/Q etc. students since 1992:

 In 1991 three frosh proposed a new house that would provide a supportive environment for queer and queer-positive students. Originally called “Our House,” the housing option began in 1992 at 69 High Street with eleven residents. Later the name would be changed to “Open House”… (see http://www.wesleyan.edu/queer/history.html#The_Nineties)

Currently, there are 7 students who live in Open House. The program house seeks to provide a space for alternative gender and sexual orientations, identities, and practices, and to build a more inclusive queer community on campus.

Wesleyan students have used the acronym GLBTQQFAGBDSM since at least 2004:

The current inclusive acronym (GLBTQQFAGBDSM) was used in the earliest version of Wesleyan Residential Life’s page for the Open House, archived Sept. 14, 2006 (indeed, that 2006 description of the house is identical to today’s). A cursory search of the archive of the student paper, The Argus, brings up a 2004 article that also uses the acronym “GLBTQQFAGBDSM” to gloss Wesleyan’s LGBT/Q/etc. community:

 There’s a new organization on campus that does not yet have a name or a mission statement. What it does have is eager members with a shared desire to create an institution many feel Wesleyan is lacking. Some of the group’s founders intend it to fill the void left by the Queer Alliance, once the umbrella organization for several other Wesleyan clubs related to GLBTQQFAGBDSM issues…. http://wesleyanargus.com/2004/09/28/new-student-group-struggles-with-identity-formation/

The current acronym, as commentators have noted, is indeed long. Another approach at Wesleyan, also student-led, is the student LGBT/Q etc. email listserv (for general announcements) called “endlessacronym,” which recognizes the importance but also the impossibility of naming everyone (See http://www.wesleyan.edu/queer/student_groups.html).

But the long form, inclusive acronym “GLBTQQFAGBDSM” also captures Wesleyan students’ commitment to thinking broadly about gender and sexual difference–and not just for people who identify as gay or lesbian (and bisexual, and trans/gender). The inclusive acronym seeks, as they say, “to create a Wesleyan community that appreciates the variety and vivacity of gender, sex and sexuality”–the many ways people might be queer (or non-normative) in their desires, presentations, orientations, relationship styles, etc.. And it seeks to build community from those differences, since gendered and sexual differences from the norm are often locations of oppression, shame, and policing in straight spaces and institutions.

Compiled by Professor Margot Weiss, faculty advisor to Open House, March 2015