Op-Ed: A message to the Tufts LGBTQIA+ community

We are extremely disheartened and upset by the act of homophobic hatred that happened in Lewis Hall on Wednesday night. We are especially saddened that this occurred only a day into LGBT History Month. It is crucial that all of Tufts come together and make sure to show our support for marginalized communities at Tufts, especially the LGBTQIA+ community.

While voicing our unequivocal support for the LGBTQIA+ community, we must also recognize the intersectional effects these acts of hatred can have. We support all marginalized voices and communities, and we acknowledge the pain and strength of each.

The recent rise in targeted acts of hatred within the Tufts community is alarming and unacceptable. Here at Tufts, we marginalized students have every right to feel safe, welcomed, accepted and recognized for who we are. No matter how many acts of hatred target us, we belong here in our community. This homophobic incident is not the only act of hate targeting LGBTQIA+ students in the past year: There were eggings of transgender students and Muslim students on International Transgender Day of Visibility.

We cannot let complacency brew in the wake of such homophobia. This hatred has recurred continuously over the past year, whether it showcases itself in acts of antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, harassment of survivors of sexual violence or transphobia. When it comes to breaking this cycle, the onus should not lie solely with students. In the wake of such acts, we want to encourage students to take the time to heal and process these incidents as we push for community-wide change, administrative action and further equity for all marginalized communities.

There is a common assumption that the LGBTQIA+ community achieved both equality and equity in 2015 with the nationwide legalization of gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. However, this was but the bare minimum of what needed to be done, and equality in our society is still a fight to be won. The Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear arguments this week on whether our community has the right to a discrimination-free workplace. Our community, and particularly people of color within it, experience frequent targeted attacks on our existence. Although last week’s homophobic attack on our campus is part of a national trend, it also speaks to the complacency of our culture here at Tufts that has emboldened individuals to perpetrate such acts on our campus with increasing frequency.

University President Anthony Monaco cannot ignore the university’s responsibility to proactively work to prevent such incidents by blaming it on the recent broader national increase in homophobic hate crimes or the Trump administration. Tufts cannot continue to allow these acts of hatred to occur. Justice and community healing are long-term processes that last far longer than the public anger and pain that we and our peers have expressed in the wake of this incident. Monaco’s standard responses — mass emails and presidential appearances at community gatherings — are not enough. These are empty words unless the Tufts administration will put forth significant effort to create a culture of safety and acceptance and reinforce its messaging with serious consequences for those who perpetrate these acts.

For all of those affected by last week’s attack, please feel free to reach out to either of us or the LGBT Center Director Hope Freeman. Additional support can be found with the Group of Six; Ears for Peers, a student-run resource for students who would like to talk about their feelings surrounding these incidents; and Counseling and Mental Health Services.

The Tufts LGBTQIA+ community is built on love, and we must stand by this value despite the hatred that can be thrown at us. We are stronger than any attempt to instill fear in our community.