Annika Dyczkowski ’25
From a negligent all-boys Catholic school to Vice President of Trinity College’s most established and queer-centered group, Julius Bourbeau ’25 is gearing up for an exciting year with EROS.
Encouraging Respect of Sexualities (EROS) is a student-run organization at Trinity that hosts community members and allies, citing it as an opportunity to discuss queer-centered issues and raise queer visibility on campus and beyond. It is also “a space to connect, talk to, and bond with queer folks and allies; it is a social space as much as it is a political one!” Bourbeau is the organization’s second-in-command to President Luz Mariana Cumpa Gomez ’24. The two work together to educate and raise awareness; however, Bourbeau characterizes his role as tackling the “social aspect” of the organization, doing this by interacting with the school’s student body.
Bourbeau says his inclination to join was rather obvious, as he is not only interested in social justice and LGBTQ+ rights, but he also identifies as gay and transgender. He says he was a member of his high school’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance); however, their visiblity and involvement was insubstantial compared to his work with EROS: events were kept to a minimum and club meetings were simply means of “trying to get through our four years there,” according to Bourbeau. He recounts his involvement in GSA as being a battle in itself, where “people were afraid of being associated with us… it feels very different this year, we hold parties, we could’ve never done something like that in high school.” Even though there seemed to be a never-ending struggle, Bourbeau highlights the value in his high school’s GSA, “[we] certainly had a lot to be proud of, the work we did was important, it was just a different kind of work.” Bourbeau sometimes still finds himself in shock over the impact that EROS has on campus compared to his history with queer-centered groups, “it’s surprising now, like, is this allowed?! [I think] there’s no way we’re gonna pull this off, and then we manage to do it.”
The events that Bourbeau is referring to begin with weekly group member meetings, and, with the assistance of the Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) and Student Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (S.A.I.L.), the group can successfully hold events such as documentary screenings and drag shows on campus.
EROS is well established campus-wide, having celebrated its 35th anniversary last year. Even though the group is recognized by campus-run organizations, Bourbeau expresses the lack of collaboration between EROS and Greek life as disappointing, “[It] should be more generally acceptable to collaborate with fraternities and sororities.”
The contrast between here and Bourbeau’s past is still considerable when asked whether Trinity is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals. “I’d say so,” Bourbeau laughs, “I’m coming from an all-boys Catholic school.” He expands on this statement, “I got outed my sophomore year, that obviously wasn’t a pleasant experience”: he imagines the probability of this occurrence at Trinity as significantly low. Bourbeau quickly recovers and illustrates that “transphobia and homophobia are absolutely something that happens at Trinity,” and he does not want to belittle the personal experiences of other LGBTQ+ individuals on campus. “Relatively, we are doing really well. There’s always more to be done, though.”
To students who are struggling with any part of their identity, Bourbeau says that reaching out to EROS and/or the QRC (Queer Resource Center) is of utmost importance. “All folks on [the] E-Board and QRC are very willing to speak to people.” He acknowledges that “it’s easy to say ‘just talk,’” but, if you are ready to talk, the QRC has open hours and students can walk-in and talk with no appointment.
The group is hosting a pasta dinner this Friday in honor of LGBT History Month; they are also hosting Halloween on Vernon for the first time this year. To those who are interested in learning more about EROS, students can contact Bourbeau at firstname.lastname@example.org or President Cumpa Gomez at email@example.com. Bourbeau is enthusiastic for the future of EROS, “if i make it easier for the next person that’s coming in, then it will be worth it.”