Intersectional Confessional: Marginalized students reflect on Tulane party culture
September 28, 2017
With a recent No. 1 Party School ranking, it cannot be denied that going out at Tulane is a unique experience. For those with identities outside the white straight cis majority, party culture is a different situation entirely.
Most Tulane students leave school with memories of going out with friends or stories about that night they blacked out and did something outrageous at The Boot.
I know my memories of partying at Tulane will never be the same as others. That is because every weekend I go out black, I experience a completely different kind of “black out” than most students.
Think of your favorite party from last year. Think of who was invited and who you knew going. Now imagine you are back at the best party of last year, surrounded by fellow students. How many people of color are around? If you cannot even name a handful of students of color in attendance, it is probably because they were not there.
At my favorite party last year, my friends and I were the only black people, as always. We learned how to go out black while people learned how to shotgun beers. We are familiar with that sickening feeling that occurs when everyone in the room sings the n-word. We watch others appropriate our culture and wonder what they say when we are not around.
On those Sundays when you are trying to piece together your night after blacking out, I recover from the stress that comes with going out in my skin.
Will not flash for flash
When you are a queer white woman cruising for another woman in a straight bar, your night will go one of two ways: either you will not get laid, or you will have your entire night catalogued by strangers.
Apparently nothing makes straight people take out their phones quicker than two women making out. Meanwhile you are thinking: “Why are you doing this? Are you using this video to get off? Show it to your friends? Post it online, outing you to your whole family?”
Occasionally, you will find yourself facing a line of women pointing their cameras at you and talking about you like you are not standing right in front of them. You will sneak a peek at them, see their varying expressions going between ecstatic, mortified and curious, as if you are the only people making out in F&M’s.
Lastly, there is the sneaky, pale loner boy who comes out of nowhere to take a quick photo and makes sure you did not forget that you are a “F*G.” His completely ordinary face disappears into the crowd before you can really figure out what he looks like.
When I go out, I feel like I am no longer a person, but a body for heterosexual consumption and entertainment. They do not see me through their eyes, just through their phone screens. I do not want to be a feature on your Snapchat story or be your gay anecdote. Please leave me alone, or at least TURN OFF YOUR DAMN FLASH!
Don’t talk about my hoops
As a femme hoop-wearing, Spanish-speaking, unapologetically Latinx person from Los Angeles, I am no stranger to white people drawing conclusions about me.
It was around Halloween during freshman year, and my primarily-white friend group convinced me to come with them to a frat party. What’s the worst that could happen, right?
It was not long before a dashiki-clad white man engaged me in conversation. Before I could tear into his problematic attire, he decided to give me what he deemed a compliment.
“Wow, I’m really digging this chola costume. Muy caliente, Mamacita!”
For context, I was NOT wearing a costume. But my skin, long hair and hoops were apparently sufficient enough.
Naturally, I had to fight him. Before he could so much as mention tequila, I snagged his fake dashiki and launched into an Elijah Mohammad-style rant explaining this history of colonization, cultural appropriation and chola culture. Let’s just say he did not take it well.
My tip to white people wanting to give a compliment to me on a night out? Stop being weird, and do not make it racial. Your fetishization is not flattering.
Tales of a homophobic bartender
When I decided to rush a fraternity, I was worried about coming out. I was worried about the people I now call brothers rejecting me or looking at me differently. Oddly enough, my brothers were not the ones I had to worry about.
They couldn’t care less about whom I bring to date parties. I have not, however, gone without controversial interactions at date parties with my boyfriend.
Depending on where you go, date party venues can be fun and welcoming. Choose carefully, though, or you might find a red flag. Once upon a time, while drunk straight couples were sloppily making out all over the dance floor at a popular bar during a date party, I decided to show some affection to my boyfriend in a booth off to the side.
Shortly after, we were singled out by a bartender over the loudspeaker and told, “This is not a gay bar.” When we approached him later he tried justifying it by saying he thought we were inappropriately joking around. Despite the dozens of straight couples displaying affection around us, somehow we were the joke.
Being queer in Greek life is possible. Because of the inherently homophobic climate of typical night life, however, tolerance and understanding is not always guaranteed.
Margaux Armfield | Art Director