This interview was originally featured on the Queer Voices Instagram page @queer_voices.
Biomedical Art and Visualization major Emerson Harman created the Queer Voices Project, which is working “to amplify LGBTQ+ student, faculty, and alumni voices at Rowan University through portraits and interviews.” You can also find more of their content here.
Name, pronouns, and identity?
My name is Ian McClellan, my pronouns are he/him/his, and I am gay.
I officially came out when transitioning between high school and college. For me it was just an easier transition, because I didn’t have to keep up any sort of façade. Everyone who was going to be at my school wouldn’t know me, so it was an easier time to be open instead of trying to hide it.
Has being LGBTQ impacted or influenced your education?
For the most part, there isn’t a noticeable impact. My teachers have never quite cared, and most of them probably don’t know. I’m not super forthcoming about being gay, it’s more of a fun fact or piece of trivia that you figure out if you figure it out, so I guess there’s been no profound impact.
Has LGBTQ culture and acceptance changed throughout your time at Rowan?
I’d say the change is minor, but I noticed it through the LGBTQ clubs on campus. When I first started attending Rowan my [first] year, the LGBTQ clubs and organizations were more of a social gathering where you could go and meet other LGBTQ people in the community, but today it’s more focused on activism and social change. That has come around due to leadership changes in the clubs, so activism is a bit bigger on campus than it once was. Social interaction still occurs through the activism of those clubs, but it’s not quite what it was. The culture hasn’t changed too much, but just changed what the focus is about.
How has attending Rowan helped you in finding an inclusive community?
Rowan has allowed me the opportunity to meet other members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are of a similar age. This has allowed me to feel more comfortable and to physically see others thriving and believe that I can thrive myself.
Were there any faculty that you particularly enjoyed, inspired you and/or made you feel you had a safe space?
The residential learning professional team at Rowan made me feel more comfortable in my time as both a resident and a resident assistant. They not only encourage diverse perspectives but celebrate them. Everyone has something to bring to the table.
Is there anything you would want to see changed at Rowan in regards to LGBTQ+ life?
I know a lot of people at Rowan struggle at the moment with their identity. College, for a lot of people, is a time to get away from the pressures of home and feeling like you have to achieve certain things, so I know a lot of students have the opportunity to explore their sexuality. A lot of people are quiet or hushed about it, though, because they feel that there’s some kind of stigma or stereotype about experimenting with your sexuality, like it’s something you can be made fun of, especially if you’re a male. You seem to have to want to experiment, because if you experiment, people think you automatically are [LGBTQ] and there’s no going back, so a lot of people go on apps to explore sexuality and use fake names or don’t put up photos, so overall there’s a lot of insecurity about it, which could be worked to be decreased.
Anything else you want to discuss?
There’s a living-learning community in Holly Pointe Commons for LGBTQ+ people. I know that RLUH (Residential Learning and University Housing) is really pushing to create more learning communities to allow people to express their interests, so people who want to be involved in the LGBTQ community have a place where for the first time in college they can come out and meet people in the community. They get the opportunity to feel an aura of comfort, because other people in their community don’t judge them for who they are.
Like what you see?