I was initially going to write about what being a trans ally has meant for me over my four years at Amherst. I intended on pushing readers to consider their place as we pass the halfway mark of Trans Awareness Month, especially those who do not identify with or fully understand the lived struggles of transgender or gender non-conforming individuals (that’s some cis-gender privilege). I wanted to encourage everyone to participate in the several available events that honor and celebrate trans lives in our world and on our campus.

Queeriosity is a biweekly column dedicated to discussing LGBTQ student life at Amherst College. If you are interested in contributing to the Queeriosity column, contact the Amherst College Queer Resource Center at qrc@amherst.edu.

This is my first contribution to The Amherst Student and to Queeriosity, so I’ll take advantage of this opportunity to introduce myself to the whole campus. I’m Evelyn Touchette, a first-year student from Arizona. I work as an office assistant at the Queer Resource Center, and I have something to admit to you all.

As my first year at Amherst was coming to its end, I began to reflect on my first-year experience in the Amherst community. More specifically, I thought about how much Amherst’s queer community had influenced me to grow and accept my identity. As I packed my things, preparing to go back “home,” to a place where my identity was neither accepted nor embraced, I realized how lucky I was, and am, to be at Amherst. It is here where I am given a safe environment to explore new realms of my queer identity.

Until middle school I wasn’t aware that people could identify as anything other than heterosexual. Freshman year of high school was when I first met other people who were open about their sexualities, and when I began to realize that it wasn’t a bad thing. Junior year, I realized I wasn’t quite as straight as I thought I was.

What does it mean to be a man? It’s one of those questions that has comparable philosophical depth to questions about the meaning of life or true happiness. I have always found it unsettling when someone is told to “be a man” or to “man up.” The presumption is that manhood is an impermanent state, one that can be denied or undermined at any time. I believe the status of being a man is one of gender identity, a social construct, how one perceives themselves. One can be born male, but society makes judgments about how much of a man one truly is.

Amherst College is the biggest tease. I have never seen such a collection of beautiful men in one place all at the same time. However, as a gay or bisexual man all you can do is look because 97% of the male population identifies as “straight.” And there’s not much to choose from in the 3% that are actually out since we’re all friends, so you turn to the UMass gays. That gets really old and really stupid really fast and all of a sudden you download Grindr and Tinder to try and meet some decent guys.

“Biddy Martin lied to me.” If I wanted to be inflammatory, that’s how I’d characterize queer life at this college, but the truth is, Amherst these days is actually a pretty good place to be gay.