LGBTQ Reporter Kate Sosin 04F Talks About the Ways Hampshire Enabled Them to Be

In a fantasy movie version of my life, my story always starts the same way: I’m in the Hampshire woods approaching the clearing at the field we’re not supposed to cross. The Hampshire tree — owned not by Hampshire, but ostensibly by a farmer who dislikes us schlepping across the land — is on the other side of the field. We’re headed there.

It’s a warm September afternoon, and sunlight is slicing through the pines. I’m running ahead of the three boys I’ve befriended on my first-year orientation trip. I breathe in deeply and laugh. I feel like I’m in the world in a way I have never been.

“What’s going on with you?” a guy we call Goose hollers from behind me.

“We’re free!” I yell, and run faster. I don’t care if I look ridiculous. I know that for the first time in my life, I can just be.

I am queer, I say to myself. I’m queer, and I can be queer here, and that’s totally fine.

I grew up in a mostly white Christian suburb south of Chicago. I hardly knew or saw any LGBGTQ+ people. Leaving the state for college, much less to a place without grades or tests or rampant homophobia, felt like a small miracle.

So when I think of how my life really started, it’s here. It’s my first few days at Hampshire. It’s this moment, running wild through the woods after orientation and before classes.

“…the value of championing every contribution, of living shamelessly and joyfully — that part of Hampshire never left me.”

Last year, I actually had the opportunity to see a movie about my life, or at least part of it. A group of documentarians followed my newsroom, The 19th, as it went from startup to full-fledged nonprofit news operation.

My own part in the film did take me back to Hampshire. The filmmakers followed me to another tree — the one by the Red Barn. They asked me to talk about why I did the work I did and how it all fit together. Naturally, I felt like it started at Hampshire.

It wasn’t just that Hampshire was the safe first place where I started my journey as an out queer person. Hampshire taught me to interrogate my role as a reporter, as the person privileged with delivering the final story.

My professors from the writing, theater, and social science departments taught me to step back and celebrate people who made my reporting possible, from sources to readers. It’s something I feel like I’m still learning to do.

Part of me has missed Hampshire deeply since I graduated, in 2008. I have unsuccessfully tried to replicate pieces of it in the larger world, whether through advocacy or work toward what I feel is more equitable and honest.

I dream of gender-neutral bathrooms in every building like those I had in college, especially as the country moves to erase trans people from public life. But the value of championing every contribution, of living shamelessly and joyfully — that part of Hampshire never left me.

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