Out at college, sent home by the pandemic

A story that has surely been repeated at many colleges in the past year. This is Stanford’s story, as told in the Stanford Daily, “They were out at Stanford. Then the pandemic sent them back home.” by Kate Selig on 1/28/21:

When Stanford announced it would send students home due to the coronavirus last winter, students’ hearts sank across campus. And for queer students closeted at home, the announcement marked an especially heartbreaking change in fortunes. Students finally able to be out with their identities on campus were sent back into the closet.

Now, almost a full year after the announcement, none of them deny that the pandemic has been tough, really tough. But behind physical isolation and separation from peers, queer students closeted at home have strengthened friendships, built up queer student organization programming and learned how to access queer resources on campus.

The pandemic has exacerbated the trauma of being closeted, but also highlighted many queer students’ resilience and hope for a better future.

Back in the closet:  All 10 students interviewed said that coming to Stanford, a safer place where most are accepting of queer people, was something they looked forward to. And once there, students were able to find queer community, or at the very least, friends they could talk to about their identities.

The excerpts from the interviews are variously distressing and touching and heartening and, in one case, astonishing: a student who went back to their extremely and quite openly homophobic little town, boldly came out, and became a passionate queer activist.

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