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LGBTQIA+ students discuss queer CSU experience, campus culture

Collegian | Julia Percy
The Colorado State University Pride Resource Center hosts a booth for National Coming into Queerness Day Oct 11. They had many resources for LGBTQIA+ education and a photo booth with pride flags.

Editor’s Note: To protect the privacy of individuals interviewed in this article, some names have been changed to provide anonymity.

Junior Kathryn Carlos was not always a Ram. In fact, her experiences with homophobia are exactly what led her to Colorado State University from St. Louis.


I actually had a big issue with one of my roommates my first semester in college,” Carlos said. “She found out I was queer, and like, that was fine, but then I invited her to a drag show that was hosted on campus, and she got really mad at me.”

Carlos described her roommate not speaking to her, and she dealt with anxiety all the time because of her living situation.

I did have to move out because I did feel unsafe living with her,” Carlos said. “More emotionally than physically but still unsafe.”

So is the LGBTQIA+ experience any better here at CSU?

In 2021, the Pride Resource Center participated in the National College Health Assessment conducted by the American College Health Association, a recognized data collection organization. The survey found some concerning statistics: One out of three LGBTQIA+ students feel they do not belong at CSU with only about 6% reporting feeling safe at night in the surrounding community.

Erin Fuller described their experience being queer at CSU.

I get weird looks from people who are associated with religious groups, but otherwise, I feel pretty safe on campus and very accepted,” Fuller said. “Even with preachers, like, they don’t even talk to me; they don’t really, like, call me out or anything. It’s only if I wanted (to talk).”

College is often the first time in a queer person’s life that they start fully expressing their identity, and the campus environment deeply shapes that experience.

“My freshman year, I was in the girls’ hall — I just had come out and started using they/them pronouns that summer before freshman year,” Fuller said. “And I felt very validated — like, I would feel more comfortable living with girls anyway just because I was born a woman.”


Fuller said it was important to them to freely express their queerness on campus as a role model for younger LGBTQIA+ students who might not feel as comfortable doing so.

For junior Caleb Cripe, only a small minority of people associated with religious groups are a problem, but otherwise, CSU is a safe place.

“I’ve never really felt unsafe or threatened because of my identity being a part of the LGBTQIA community,” Cripe said. “I know campus is a free speech zone, and especially in The Plaza, people are allowed to come and table and express their ideas and opinions. But I don’t know — sometimes just walking around like in between classes and seeing protesters holding up signs that say being gay is a sin or being part of the LGBTQIA community is a sin just kind of — I don’t know — kind of ruins my day a little bit.”

Lila Hartley, a junior participating in Greek life who wished to use a fake name, acknowledged answering from a straight-passing perspective but still said she feels very comfortable sharing her identity at CSU. She also described her sorority as being a place where she feels affirmed, accepted and understood for her queer identity.

“The friends I made in my sorority was like kind of my first time having other either gay or bi friends (with whom) I could talk about these things … that I felt not comfortable talking to my straight friends about just because I feel like they wouldn’t relate,” Hartley said.

Hartley was not always sure the sororities on campus would be so affirming. As a first-year, she was hesitant to join Greek life because of her identity, but she said couldn’t be happier now.

While many LGBTQIA+ students would describe a positive experience at CSU and the university prides itself for being a safe and accepting campus for all, queer students say there’s a difference between feeling safe and feeling seen.

“CSU could do a lot better job of supporting and creating an environment where queer people feel safe and seen,” Carlos said. “While I don’t necessarily feel unsafe, I don’t feel seen in CSU’s environment at all. I don’t see a lot of queer professors being propped up; honestly, I feel like they are often not taken seriously, especially women queer people.”

Queer students suggest CSU could do more to incorporate celebration of their existence and individuality in the campus culture.

“I truly can’t actually think of a time that my identity has been a part of an experience at CSU,” sophomore Phoebe Williams said.

Reach Caden Proulx at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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Caden Proulx
Caden Proulx, Print Director
Caden Proulx is a human development and family studies student at Colorado State University pursuing his passion for graphic design at The Collegian. Originally from Austin, Texas, Caden's journalistic journey began in the high school yearbook department, where his passion for design grew. This led to him to seek out student media when he got to Colorado State University. Starting as a page designer in his first year, Caden found a home at The Collegian. This led him to the position of print director his sophomore year. Despite majoring in HDFS, Caden seamlessly integrates his hobby of graphic design with his academic pursuits. The Collegian has become an integral part of his success at CSU. Now firmly rooted in Colorado, Caden is eager to contribute to the student media landscape, The Collegian and its success. He loves working alongside other excited students who are talented and have a lot to teach and push him to continue to grow as a visual journalist.

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