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Behind the mask of Super Queer

Ze walks through the Union alone, a black and pink triangle mask hiding the chocolate-brown eyes that dominate hir narrow face.

A rainbow flag trails behind hir as students stare questioningly at the giant pink Q dominating the baggy T-shirt ze wears. Ze smiles in their direction, walks up to their table and asks them how the weather is.

Just another day in the life of Super Queer.

For senior Jennifer Dietsch, or Super Queer as she is known when in costume, living the life of a gay female can often feel like living behind a mask.

‘I don’t want any kid out there to cry every night like I did because they think they’re a freak for being attracted to the same gender or sex,’ Dietsch said. ‘If there is someone in the closet out there who sees Super Queer and knows that gays are around on campus, then they might not be so scared when it’s time for them to come out.’

Super Queer, which has become the official mascot of the gay rights group Vision, was created by Dietsch after attending a pride fest in Indiana this summer. The superhero debuted on campus during a protest at Coming out Week in October.

‘People would see me go past and be like, ‘what the heck was that?” she said. ‘That’s when I started going up to protesters and talking to them about what I was representing.’

The message behind Super Queer is aimed at creating awareness and understanding of queer issues on campus in a world that constantly blames homosexuality on personal choice, Dietsch said.

‘I was raised in a situation where I should have been hetero, but something in my genetics or biological makeup made me attracted to girls,’ she said. ‘Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be more than friends with other girls.’

Dietsch came out to herself when she was 16-years-old. But it wasn’t until she was 18 that she felt comfortable enough to come out to friends and family members.

And though she acknowledges that her family loves her, she didn’t get the warm reception she had hoped for after she first told her parents she was gay.

‘I honestly was afraid my father was going to kick me out of the house,’ she said. ‘He’s come a long way in the last few years though. I love my father, and I know he loves me, but there’s still tension between us sometimes.’

Much like her husband, Dietsch’s mother was also upset when first told her daughter was a lesbian because of her fear that Dietsch would be raped or beat up. However, she has always been supportive and expressed her love for her daughter no matter what, Dietsch said.

And though she has made progress with her family, Dietsch said she continues to face discrimination both on and off campus.

‘When I went to OSU my freshman year, I would hear the term gay and faggot and I wouldn’t be afraid to speak out against it,’ she said. ‘Using a word that represents an oppressed minority to mean stupid reflects destruction in our population, and I’m just trying to turn that around.’

According to Joelle Ruby Ryan, a friend of Dietsch’s and the founder of transgender rights organization Transcendence, speaking out against the intolerance often targeted at gay men and women is the only way to make a difference.

She said she admires Dietsch for her boldness and her willingness to challenge those who see her in a negative light.

‘Jennifer isn’t afraid to talk the talk and walk the walk for gender equality,’ Ryan said.

Dominant religious groups have also continued to pose a challenge for the acceptance of homosexual peoples like Dietsch.

Although she no longer identifies with the religion, Dietsch was born, raised, baptized and confirmed as a Presbyterian. Her religion did not believe in gay marriage and was generally un-accepting of her lifestyle, she said.

‘I got to the point where I was tired of crying when I prayed,’ Dietsch said. ‘I wanted to be treated just like everyone else. I want to be in a monogamous relationship with a wife I can grow old with, a job I enjoy, a house and maybe a couple of puppies.’

And though she may be far from most of the items on her list, Dietsch has found love in her girlfriend of over a year, senior Amanda Monyak.

‘I’ve had people say, ‘You don’t know what love is because you’ve never felt love,” she said. ‘I say, you don’t know what love is if you can’t see me and my girlfriend are clearly in love.’

Monyak, who has also faced negative feedback from the community outside of Bowling Green, said she supports the idea of Super Queer because it spreads awareness and visibility.

‘I think Jennifer is fabulous,’ Monyak said. ‘I see her as a very introverted person, and it was weird when she started doing Super Queer, because it’s just so out.’

Monyak said Dietsch has not received much negativity from the students at Bowling Green, but has experienced disapproval from members of the gay community.

According to both Dietsch and Monyak, members of Vision have quit the group because of the representation Super Queer portrays.

‘It’s sad they’re threatened by something so visual,’ Monyak said. ‘They’re not used to social things like this and that’s why they feel so uncomfortable, which is why there is a definite need for Super Queer.’

But regardless of the communities’ views on the mascot, Dietsch said she will continue her efforts to help spread understanding and awareness about the challenges gay men and women face.

‘This is just the way we are,’ Dietsch said. ‘The only choice we have is to love ourselves.’

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