QTPOC Finding Community with their Intersecting Identities

Across the Bistro, a door with “You Belong Here. You Are Loved” written in rainbow words seemed fitting for the meeting taking place. Looking around the room, the meeting attendees laugh and discuss, reminding themselves that they do belong and that they are loved no matter what. It’s 7 p.m. on a Monday evening and this group, called the Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC), has created a community at Seattle University that blends various intersecting identities.

Almost a year old, QTPOC (pronounced like “cutie pock”) is a fairly new club on campus. Second year political science major and Co-President Aryon S. created the club after he attended the student-run and student-focused Ignatian LGBTQIA+ conference, known as the IgnatianQ conference at Santa Clara University last spring through Campus Ministry.

“I felt inspired there because I saw a lot of different kinds of queer spaces, especially queer spaces for people of color,” Aryon said. But when he returned from his trip at Santa Clara and was back at Seattle U, he noticed a need for more of those spaces on our campus.

“And I felt like, okay I see a community of queer people of color like fragments that are around SU, and I know a lot of them, but there isn’t a space for us to come together and group together and organize in a sense.”

Triangle Club, which supports Seattle U’s LGBTQIA+ community, already existed on campus before the inception of QTPOC. But by creating QTPOC, Vice President and second year Sociology major Mikayla Jones noted that there was a need for a space for queer folks to explicitly explore the intersection with race and culture.

“A lot of white queer people, one of their main identities is just being queer and they don’t have that intersectionality with different identities like people of color do, so they don’t really think about the different struggles that we have,” Jones said.

The founding QTPOC members thought space was necessary, because many times one or more of their identities were not welcome, often from peers or family back home. Some of QTPOC’s biggest struggles stem from finding a safe place to live near campus. The group is involved in gender-inclusive housing and they stress the importance of creating safe spaces on campus for historically marginalized groups.

It has been over a year since QTPOC’s inception and the club now has over a dozen members. While the name QTPOC represents queer and trans people, all members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are also people of color are welcome.

“The point of the Q and the T in QTPOC, is sort of like an umbrella term,” Karina Arroyo said, Co-President and second year-International and global studies major. “I don’t know all of the identities of people that are in the club right now, but the point was for all those people to be included.”

Arroyo, despite not being able to regularly attend QTPOC meetings, finds comfort in knowing that the space exists on campus whenever she needs it.

“I want people to join QTPOC because it’s a totally new experience,” Arroyo said, noting that she had struggled previously to find her place on campus. “But knowing that this space is on campus for people like me is very comforting and it makes me feel more at home here.”

Rania may be reached at
[email protected]