Robert Hupf

Home Is Where the Heart Is

For me, the WGS Department was critical in establishing a feeling of “Home.”

A Home to turn to during my years of personal discovery and intellectual growth. A Home to provide support during difficult times, to listen and to encourage when I engaged in difficult self-introspection. A Home to run to when life at my real “home” was not quite…Home-like.  

It was the sense of community. Self-identified feminists, gender-non-conforming folks, radical progressives. Those who embraced identity categories as critical to personal autonomy in the same space as those who rejected any identity classification as essentializing. Allies of all stripes delving into narratives and perspectives of the lived experiences of others, not merely for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of solidarity.

It was also the theoretical perspectives and political ideologies that aligned with my own. Acknowledgment of social constructions built on power and exclusion. Recognition of identity as performative, itself constructed, yet still necessary as a means of survival and community recognition. Embrace of allyship, not just empathetic support by people whom care, but the intentional placement of community needs and voices before our own.

And, of course, it was the Family. Friends and acquaintances that not only knew my story, but had lived it themselves. Professors and faculty who recognized the area of study as not just a STUDY, but a life choice. Lovers and partners – self-explanatory.

I speak of the benefits and community of the WGS Department as if it were in the past, when in reality, that community and feeling of “Home” is something I still cling to and fight for on a daily basis. I made my ultimate choice in law school based on a desire to commit the rest of my life to fighting for such spaces to continue, to ensure that a radical, progressive, and safe society can foster without fear of persecution. I wanted to be able to guarantee that others would be able to find a feeling of “Home” in the future.

I would recommend taking a WGS course, even if you were unsure of its practicality. At the very least, you will walk away having had critical assumptions and worldviews challenged. More probably, you will walk away having appreciated a more nuanced understanding of your identity, in addition to having made some long-term friendships. And, if you’re like me, you’ll never walk away. Because you can never truly walk away from your Family, from your Home.

For me, the WGS Department was critical in establishing a feeling of “Home.” It was the sense of community - self-identified feminists, gender-non-conforming folks, radical progressives. Allies of all stripes delving into narratives and perspectives of the lived experiences of others, not merely for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of solidarity. It was the theoretical ideologies present that aligned with my own. Acknowledgment of social constructions built on power and exclusion. Recognition of identity as performative, itself constructed, yet still necessary as a means of survival and community recognition. And, of course, it was the Family. Friends and acquaintances that not only knew my story, but had lived it themselves. Professors and faculty who recognized the area of study as not just a STUDY, but a life choice. Lovers and partners – self-explanatory.

I would recommend taking a WGS course, even if you were unsure of its practicality. At the very least, you will walk away having had critical assumptions and worldviews challenged. More probably, you will walk away having appreciated a more nuanced understanding of your identity, in addition to having made some long-term friendships. And, if you’re like me, you’ll never walk away. Because you can never truly walk away from your Family, from your Home.


- Robert Hupf