Queer Joy

There’s a reason the symbol of the queer movement has, for the longest time, been a rainbow. With — or, rather, despite the hatred and violence and prejudice, the movement stands for and ultimately thrives in pure, unadulterated joy. Queerness may be an umbrella term for the many identities under it, but the rainbow is a shared symbol of what the term stands for; color, pride, and community, despite our differences. It’s one of the sources of what we can call “queer joy.”

Penn State’s own Pride Month is celebrated in the month of April, as opposed to the usual June, to ensure the participation of as many students as possible. The community at Penn State is vibrant and proudly makes its presence known regardless of the month; however, in April, it almost seems like the queer joy on campus is tenfold.

The term “queer joy” may mean different things for different people, but once you’ve experienced it, you just … know.

What is Queer Joy?
Photo from Pinterest.com

The author Anthony Venn Brown once said, “The richness, beauty and depths of love can only be fully experienced in a climate of complete openness, honesty and vulnerability.” In a way, this quote perfectly encapsulates what it means to experience queer joy.

Queer joy is a unique sort of feeling in the sense that it can’t be explained all that easily. It comes from community, acceptance and finding people with the same experiences as you. Queer joy comes from being able to be yourself and be around people that make you feel comfortable enough to do so. It comes from having conversations with someone else that just … gets it. It comes from seeing a same-sex couple being able to be affectionate in public or from being able to have conversations about queerness in an open space. It comes from seeing a little pride pin on someone’s backpack or someone talking about queerness like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Maybe that’s what it is — finally being treated as something the world is accustomed to in a world that has otherwise deemed you abnormal.

It’s not exclusive to the LGBT community, however. A joy like that can come from allyship as well. It could be felt when witnessing the growth of the world around you and the progress that has been made in society. In fact, a lot of queer people experience it just by seeing allyship exist around them, seeing the differences in them being celebrated instead of being shunned.

Queer joy ultimately comes from being able — being allowed to be vulnerable and honest about your identity.

Queer Joy at Penn State
Photo from @pennstate on Instagram

Penn State’s Pride Month brought about quite a few events on campus, from the HUB Takeover to the Pride Rally that concluded at Old Main. Even just walking past an event like that, seeing the universal symbol of the pride flag being openly and, more importantly, proudly displayed around you can make one feel queer joy.

While the larger scale campus events can almost definitely bring about queer joy in those that feel a connection to queerness, it could also be the smaller details — things that could only be noticed by those looking for them. Queer identifiers, symbols that are unique and only recognized by the community are almost like a secret code meant just for those belonging to it. When spotted, these can spark a sense of queer joy as well. Some of these are universal, but Penn State has it’s own select few, with the CSGD’s pride flag-colored wristbands being one of them.

While the month of April is nearing its end, the events for PSU’s Pride Month haven’t concluded just yet. The Penn State Gayla or Gay Prom takes place on the 28th in the Alumni Hall — an event that allows for those who may not have been able to have their prom due to the lack of a comfortable environment to finally have that.

Why Is Queer Joy Important?
Photo from Pinterest.com

Progress is usually just that — progress. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re anywhere near the finish line. While it’s undeniable that the acceptance of queerness has vastly changed over time and that the community is in a much better place than it used to be, pride and openness have come with their own hurdles. Today, with the acceptance and joy also comes the politicization of queer identities. With the reintroduction of quite a bit of anti-queer legislation and opinion, it’s more important now than ever to spread and find comfort in queer joy.

After all, queer joy is nothing but happiness. It’s the feeling of being content, safe and comfortable. In its purest form, queerness itself can be a way of experiencing queer joy and joy in general. While it might seem cliche to say “spread love, not hate” — that’s exactly what needs to be done. Queer joy is a feeling that exists but not nearly enough people feel it just yet.

Have you found yourself experiencing queer joy, at Penn State or otherwise? Let us know @VALLEYmag on Instagram or Twitter!


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