Subculture on Main strives to raise awareness of the diversity of people and important issues on the Lawrence University campus. Care is taken to give equal platform to unique individuals and to listen to their stories with an open mind. Interviews are reflective only of the interviewee and are not representative of their whole group.
Meeting Sterling Clarke Ambrosius for an interview shed some light on their experience within some of Lawrence’s niche communities. At the beginning of the interview, Sterling was read a definition of the word subculture to introduce the idea that we all belong to smaller groups under the larger culture here at Lawrence and, by extension, the world. With that in mind, they identified student organization, neurodiverse and queer communities as being the most important groups to which they belong.
They describe being a part of LUCC as, “A channel to advocate for other students.” They currently act as student chair of the organization. Speaking on the LGBTQ+ community, Ambrosius said, “[Q]ueerness, to me, is everything from gender to sexuality to the romantic spectrum. I am both a trans enby (nonbinary person) and queer.” Ambrosius then talked about a much lesser-known group on campus. “Neurodiversity to me is like not having regular moods, learning disabilities and essentially the neurological spectrum … it’s everything from focus to social cues to mood disorders.”
Here, neurodiversity means functioning and processing that deviates from what is considered typical. Those who might identify with the neurodiverse community may have autism spectrum disorder, ADHD or be considered gifted. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the diversity of this vibrant community, only a sample of who might relate.
“I would say that these groups,” commented Ambrosius, “represent a lot of people who would normally be considered weird and out there. A lot of us, and this is not speaking on behalf of the community, but a lot of us don’t necessarily fit in with the rest of campus. I mean, I certainly don’t. There is the constant barrage of people thinking, ‘Wow, that’s weird’ and that really comes from conformity to [cisheteronormative] societal standards. Add in the neurodiversity, not getting social cues and having a hard time focusing on one thing, stuff like that definitely causes people to look at you differently. There are the people on campus who are just accepting, and I would say that’s most of the campus. But then there are the other people who want to baby you once they find out that you’re neurodivergent. And then there are the people who think that you should just be normal.”
Ambrosius went on to identify some wishes for their communities. “For the neurodivergence, I wish people would stop expecting people to just understand [implied messages]… I wish that people would stop doing things like expecting you to know perfectly how to behave in a room or how to react to something because I’m still functional and I still do my job and I’m still passionate about the advocacy work that I do.”
“I’m queer but I always question myself before I say something about my gender or my sexuality because queer subculture in and of itself is very different from heteronormativity… I think one of the things that I would love to do more, but I’m always scared to do…is doing things like wearing heels or putting on a dress because I’m going out there and I’m presenting the way I want to present and that’s a scary thought.”
Addressing the issue of identity overall, Ambrosius concluded with, “[The] important thing about being part of the neurodivergent group is having people get that you might not always be up to society’s standards… there’s a lot of crossover with [the neurodivergent group] and the queer group. Society called us freaks so we got a lil’ freaky. And now, at least when I’m with my friends, I try to be a little bit more myself which has been always been a little freaky.”
Ambrosius likes to spend time with like-identifying people, spending time with friends and LUNG (Lawrence University Neurodiversity Group) club. They would like to increase intersectionality and diversity on campus through their student advocacy involvement with LUCC. There are some issues within each community, they remarked, but overall there is a strong sense of unity that is aiming to be more inclusive.
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