Queer History Month at Ramapo addresses the Queer community and the students' struggle with identity, sexuality and safety. Sexuality is something that can be ignored or invisible, but through Ramapo's Women's Center, students are able to become comfortable in their own skin.
On the day of events, the Women's Center has volunteers help set up or take tickets. Each event requires cooperation between at least a dozen or so people. October is a very hectic month, but with the amount of advanced planning put into all of these events, the Women's Center always manages to pull off a successful presentation, dance or speaker.
"To help ourselves handle the sheer volume of work that comes with such a stressful month, our office begins planning for the events weeks, and sometimes months, in advance. Most events start at a planning meeting, which is held to allow the sponsors -usually us-and the cosponsors to come together and brainstorm what they want to get out of October," said Cara May, the Women's Center social justice educator.
New and returning speakers are chosen by the Queer Peer coordinator and often speak about general interests, current events, needs of the community and sometimes political viewpoints.
"So far, I have most enjoyed the Queer History Month keynote speaker, Jennifer Miller," said Diana Atalla, the Women's Center Queer Peer Services coordinator. "As a bearded woman who openly acknowledges her facial hair rather than try to hide it, Miller's message of being comfortable with what is natural for you, regardless of what others may consider natural, was one that most anyone may find relevant to their experience."
The Women's Center hosts several events during October to support various causes related to Queer History Month.
Among them is Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a march to end relationship and sexual violence. In Walk A Mile, male identified people walk a mile in high-heeled shoes.
"I think it's really important because it is an event that really reaches out to the male-identified community on campus and brings to their attention an issue that they might not be familiar with," said Alexandra Lapp, the Women's Center publicist.
Also among these events is the Green Dot Carnival, an event based on the Green Dot program, which tries to replace red dots with green dots. Red dots represent situations in which someone supports rape culture or jokes about sexual assault, while green dots represent more positive situations.
Queer Peer Services' primary and most recurring service is VENT (Very Empowering Nighttime Talking), which allows members of Ramapo's community to express themselves in a group of surrounding peers. This allows students to talk about current issues that they may be facing, whether it be their sexuality, orientation or positive changes they are making. This group is now also open to straight allies and meets every Monday at 9:30 p.m. in the Women's Center, C-220.
"As the facilitator of this group, I would actually consider VENT to be most impacting, as it is constantly bringing people together and allowing them a safe and supportive space where they are always welcome, which I find to be quite beautiful, rewarding, and all sorts of lovely," Atalla said.
Queer Peer Services is advocating for the queer community, creating a safe, diverse, non-judgmental environment for queer students and their allies, and working to educate the campus community on what it is to be queer, and why queer identities are important to everyone.
Anyone is welcome to contact Queer Peer Services by walking into the Women's Center, calling (201) 684-7468 or emailing email@example.com.