Bill McCoy talks about his role as the director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer (LGBTQ) Resources.
Q: What services does your office offer LGBTQ students?
A: LGBTQ identities and cultures are unique. Very few of us grow up in spaces that celebrate LGBTQ history or practice LGBTQ culture. It isn't until we find community, and community that is multigenerational, that our culture and history can easily be explored, learned and practiced. The office affords the space and, through our programming, the opportunity to engage in this cultural exploration. We create opportunities for members of the Bucknell community to process their common experiences (like coming out) and learn about LGBTQ identities and cultures — to better understand their own history, or the experiences of others.
Q: How does Bucknell's rural location impact the services you offer students?
A: There are fewer resources and structures outside of the University established to help serve the LGBTQ community in a rural area. Local queer history and community is also less obvious – but it is here if you look for it. I do think this environment provides a great opportunity for students to better learn about rural queer culture and explore how to be themselves in different environments.
Q: Pennsylvania recently became the 18th state to permit gay marriage. What battles remain for the University LGBTQ community to fight here?
A: Marriage equality will continue to be a national issue until equity is reached more broadly. Given that we have students from various locations in the U.S. and abroad, the conversation around marriage will continue. On campus, we still have a lot of work to do. We need to build resources for students who have been disowned from their families after coming out and/or disclosing their gender identity. While the perception is that "it gets better," and it has broadly, for individual students coming out still poses some significant personal risks. The University also still has a ways to go to meet the needs of the trans population — from physical facilities to policies and systems — and we are working to address those needs.
Q: What advice do you offer Bucknellians for being allies with LGBTQ students?
A: Listen. Listen deeply and broadly. Allies often want to jump into action and miss a critical step in learning from and about the people they hope to help. Attending events and reading about queer history and experiences are critical to being an effective ally.