Every May, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity holds a special dinner to recognize out seniors. Graduating students, along with allies and a few faculty, were in attendance at this year’s event to reflect on and celebrate the journeys of queer students at Bowdoin.
“Being able to stop and take an evening to celebrate all of these students has become a meaningful tradition each year,” said Kate Stern, the director of the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.
The concept of this dinner was first introduced by Associate Dean of Upperclass Students Lesley Levy and Stern as a way to recognize seniors, both ones who were out before they came to college or who came out while they were here. The College has become increasingly welcoming to students of all kinds, including LGBTQIA students. “While everyone who comes out as not heterosexual and/or cisgender comes out at their own time, and in their own way, it has been wonderful to watch as Bowdoin has had more and more seniors come out before they graduate,” Stern said.
After President Clayton Rose made few remarks, the dinner began. Students at each table shared highlights from their time at Bowdoin and hopes for life after they graduate. Some students shared stories regarding their identities and how they had come to embrace themselves.
As one student noted, “It was such a relief to finally stop worrying about how I was being perceived by others and to finally acknowledge my own perceptions of my queerness.”
This sentiment of recognition and commitment to oneself was the theme of the evening. Staff and faculty read quotes by out alumni dating back to 1948, sharing their advice and wisdom with seniors for being out in the world. The alumni offered insight, humor, and optimism.
Here is one piece of shared wisdom from a current student: “Queer individuals: both in attendance at the dinner and not in attendance; both out and not out; as you navigate your respective identities, hold on to the courage and strength exuded by your commitment to living your truths.”