Oberlin is one of the most inclusive places I have ever been to. The community accepts you for who you are, warts and all, and makes you feel like part of the family. There is no community that is not welcomed at Oberlin, and I feel like that is one of the best things about the college and its greater community.
It starts when you first walk on campus and meet someone.
Hi, my name is (blank) and I use (blank) pronouns.
This is how almost every introductory conversation at Oberlin starts.
For me, that would look like:
Hi, my name is Tara, and I use she/her pronouns.
Coming into Oberlin from another country the concept of introducing myself with my pronouns was very odd. I am also told though that this is a very Oberlin-esque thing to do, and it isn't common in many other places in the States. I think it very much represents the acceptance of every community that Oberlin has. It took me a little while to wrap my head around it, but I think I have the concept down now and it makes your life a lot easier in the long run.
The main reason for needing this is that there are quite a few non-binary and transgender people here at Oberlin, and this means that people are not at risk of being misgendered or having their gender assumed. It's a really nice way to make everyone feel validated and accepted in their choice of gender.
This acceptance is also extended to the bathroom system at Oberlin. Most of the bathrooms on campus are either all-gender or E-system bathrooms, which means that everyone is welcome to use them, and again allows people to feel accepted.
I have strayed a bit from the intended point of this post. I myself am not non-binary nor transgender, but I felt when talking about the accepting nature of Oberlin, that was one point I couldn't skip over.
Now on to the reason I started this post in the first place:
I am gay. A fact about myself that I wasn't really willing to accept back home. I didn't have a reason to hide it, I didn't think I was going to be shunned for it nor did I think my family would have a problem, I just didn't feel comfortable being who I was.
That all changed when I got to Oberlin. Seeing people from all walks of life being proud of who they are changed my view of myself and allowed me to become more comfortable with who I am. There are so many people who are out and proud at Oberlin and that gave me the courage to come out to my parents and be who I truly am.
Oberlin gives you the courage to be who you are and know that you are not going to be judged for it. I know not everyone has accepting parents like mine, but I know that it would have taken me a lot longer to tell my parents had I not become an Obie.
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