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Harvard Undergraduates Laud Intersectional ‘Affinity Spaces’ Hosted by QuOffice

The Office of BGLTQ Student Life is located in the basement of Thayer Hall.
The Office of BGLTQ Student Life is located in the basement of Thayer Hall. By Jennifer Z. Liang
By Hana Rostami, Crimson Staff Writer

Students praised the Office of BGLTQ Student Life’s fall semester “affinity spaces,” which enable queer undergraduates of overlapping intersectional identities to support each other, engage in dialogue, and discuss shared experiences.

Interns at the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, often referred to as QuInterns, have organized 10 affinity spaces for various intersectional identities this semester. The events are held on Thursdays in the QuOffice, located in Thayer Hall’s basement.

The QuOffice’s LGBTQ+ affinity spaces have included a trans+ space, a first-generation, low-income space, and a Black space. There are two more affinity spaces slated for the semester: a Nov. 30 space for queer students who are Asian American or Pacific Islander and a Dec. 7 event for students who are aromantic or asexual.

Atlas Sanogo ’24, a co-president of the Queer Students Association and a QuIntern who helped organize the Black queer affinity space, said two to three interns staff the spaces. These spaces act as a “community building base,” according to Sanogo.

“It always feels very comforting to be able to find other people who share your experience,” they said.

Kris B. King ’24, who works at the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, said they aim to “foster spaces for trans community members” in their role.

“I’ve said for many years that Harvard has a lot of trans-plus folks, but they don’t necessarily have a trans community,” they said. “We’re only just now on the precipice of having enough folks interconnected and a critical mass of community members that are engaged with one another to really have a ‘community.’”

Safara Malone ’27, who attended QuOffice’s Black affinity space on Oct. 19, said she felt it allowed students with similar identities to connect with one another.

“I think having that space to just take up space with people who are just like me is really important,” Malone said.

Malone said the space was unique at Harvard, adding that she often will “hide different parts” of herself in queer spaces.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to find other Black and queer people. And I think it was one of the first spaces that I’ve been since I started coming to Harvard that I actually felt like I could fully be myself,” Malone said.

Oliver J. Slayton ’26, another intern at the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, said, the spaces aim to recognize students’ intersectional identities.

“We recognize that folks are not just their queer identities, and rather their queer identities are a piece of the larger puzzle of who they are, and we hope to be able to engage some of the other pieces that make up who people are in our identity spaces,” they said.

Slayton said the spaces helped them “have more vulnerable conversations” with other queer students who have overlapping identities, though the spaces also encouraged “forms of celebration” and activities including watching movies and playing games.

The affinity spaces also offer students the opportunity to directly engage with QuOffice staff, which “can be a really nice peer group to dip your toes into the queer community at Harvard,” according to Slayton.

Sanogo encouraged students to reach out with requests for affinity spaces because they are often “quite contingent” on the office’s interns.

“We really want to make sure that as many identities are represented as possible,” they added.

—Staff writer Hana Rostami can be reached at hana.rostami@thecrimson.com.

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Tags
Student GroupsStudent LifeGender and SexualityQueer Students and Allies