Learning to Assert your Identity with Q’onnections

Learning to Assert your Identity with Q’onnections

Learning to Assert your Identity Series

The Queer Mentors are students who have volunteered and dedicated their time to supporting LGBTQ+ students throughout the Q’onnections program. Mentees are placed into Identity Interests groups and receive their own dedicated (and friendly!) Queer Mentor throughout the program to guide them. As one of the first LGBTQ+ Mentors at John Jay they will provide valuable connections at John Jay. Queer Mentors familiarize students with core LGBTQ+ concepts, offer ongoing tips to succeed as an LGBTQ+ student or supportive ally, and connect them with like-minded students. They offer individual and group support sessions throughout the program as well as facilitate constructive LGBTQ+ activities/workshops.

The goal of the mentors is to:
1) Explore the concepts of LGBTQ+ identity
2) Understand the concepts of community organizing
3) Explore Advocacy
4) Provide leadership skills
5) Facilitate growth
6) Find solutions to all kinds of obstacles

How to Assert your Identity Part 1: Pronouns

Developing a healthy sense of self and figuring out how we fit into society is a fundamental stage of development. As teenagers, we tend to experience a stage of  “crisis” in exploring our sense of self and identity which can seep into adulthood.  In today’s workshop, we will be talking about how we can build our confidence as LGBTQ+ Folx claim our identities. We will also explain how using inclusive language tactics and hopefully leave this workshop with a healthy understanding of our own unique identities. 

“We are all trying to provide a safer space for everyone and I think that is awesome!! 🙂 – Nat (Queer Mentee)

Nat Queer Mentee 2020

Q’onnections Meeting Agenda & Minutes: Asserting your Identity Part 1


How to Assert your Identity Part 2: Belonging

In today’s workshop, we will be talking about the science and study behind how we see ourselves and how we belong.

Possessing multiple identities such as being LGBTQ+ and a person of color can create self-doubt in terms of where people fit within society. I feel as within society you are forced to pick one or the other and for whatever reasons you can’t be both which sucks because at the end of the day everyone just wants to live freely without any worries and judgment from anyone. – Foluke Queer Mentee 2020


Then I dropped two classes..

I have been aching to submit my post for some time but, time is fleeting, as life always is isn’t it? Why, am I so late I ask myself even as I write this…but I know why it is because I am recovering from trauma. Being LGBTQ+ is never easy, being trans is even harder. I considered transitioning for a while, I remember looking in the mirror gently rubbing my chin as if some magic wizard might make me the male I saw myself as. During my time as a college student I faced a lot, the first-day jitters are less about fitting in and more about hoping I’ll come home alive. Now I rub my chin because I can feel the fist that slammed into my face less than a year ago when another student caught me off guard and punched me in the face. “I don’t care about your sexuality.” he hissed as I fell backwards slowly toward the ground I saw a group of students ready to remind me why I shouldn’t get up right there on my campus, right were I thought I belonged. Now I know I belong because I came back, I swallowed my fear, I stopped shaking and stomped on toward the the door at least…not this time. This time I logged onto zoom, a whirl and a click I sat empty and dazed working hours to support students as a Peer Success Coach in the warm summer’s pandemic months. Life seemed to trudge on despite the chaos around it and I asked myself…why should I not the do the same?

My song for this month “There is a place where we don’t have to feel alone…everytime that you call out you’re a little less alone. From across the silence your voice is heard.”

In the months before the world met its pseudo-zombie-like state, a spark ran in me…a report card for all of CUNY a place for all students, a welcome home for all the LGBTQ+ folx. Do we not deserve a welcome more than anyone else? In fact we should welcome the NEW “us” the one person we choose to be, not the birthright so many claim we should. College is the first time most us get to be who we truly are at least that’s what we’re told but that simply isn’t the case. Most times LGBTQ+ students are regulated to a small club or corner and used as a minority token to advance some agenda. I was tired of that, I wanted to help my fellow students the way I helped students at my job. We don’t get the right health education or a how-to guide on standing up for ourselves. I’ve seen too many students run away while I spit venom back, the venom rightly deserved at the masses who tried to cage my people.

I searched four-plus years now for the unicorn field, the place were all the LGBTQ+ students were free to be who they were. Where the magic of our identities and experiences shined. On the first day of the semester I mounted an attack, one that would be not come softly but in roar of enthusiasm. I drafted up Q’onnections an LGBTQ+ mentoring program that would pair LGBTQ+ students with other like minded students and push them to be advocates, leaders and champions for themselves. I rallied my fellow club mates and spent countless hours coming up with programing, ideas, concepts, drawings and more. I was acting as a director and student. I was respected in one space as the man rallying the charge and in my classes I was deadnamed for asking why I got a 75 on an assignment I fighting for perfection with everything I had and told I was starting up “discourse”. “Well it’s feminine on all your documents what do you expect?” They told me. “I am trying but it’s soooo hard.” They whined. I had enough, the toughest part of this semmester was being trans, it always was but this semmester would be diffrent. I dropped two classes and walked on.

The charge is on full speed, tomorrow is the fist day I train my mentors for battle. I am ready. See more about my idea here: https://lgbtq.ink/jjqsite

Till I find the unicorns find me with my head in the clouds. Till then I’ll keep walking…

Sam Ascencio 9/23/2020