CSUN English professor promotes diversity in and out of classroom

Martin Pousson, associate English professor, has been an advocate of the LGBT community since his college years. He now serves the LGBT community on campus by providing a safe space for them in his office in Sierra Hall. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Zide / Contributor
Martin Pousson, associate English professor, has been an advocate of the LGBT community since his college years. He now serves the LGBT community on campus by providing a safe space for them in his office in Sierra Hall. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Zide / Contributor

By Jeffrey Zide

For anyone who has never attended one of Martin Pousson’s classes, a typical first day of class looks something like this:

“There’s two things about me that don’t change that students need to know. One is that I’m covering up a lot of ink and it’s permanent,” Pousson said. “The second is that I am an out and outrageous homosexual and that’s permanent, too.”

Pousson, a CSUN associate English professor and member of the Queer Studies Program who grew up in the bayou-land of Louisiana and attended Loyola College in New Orleans, where he first came out.

There was no organization or club for LGBT people at Loyola, so he created an LGBTIQQA (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Questioning Alliance) club.

Coming out is a “critical first step in creating a set of systems and institutions that are actually legitimate,” he said. “Coming out is also a duty.”

When LGBT students fail to embrace their own identities, they give credence to the same systems and institutions which they say are delegitimizing them, Pousson added.

Pousson said he waited until later in the semester as he became comfortable with the class to come out to his students at other universities.

Over the last five years, it has became important to come out on the first day of the semester, especially as more students having just finished high school are coming out as LGBT, he said.

Pousson’s office, Sierra Tower 802, serves as the temporary home of the Queer Student Ambassadors, a group of students who co-sponsor events between LGBT clubs and organizations on campus.

“It is impossible to pigeonhole a community as diverse as the LGBT community because it is always growing and evolving,” he said.

The Embassy, as it is called, serves as a temporary resource center until the fully funded LGBT Resource Center, which is expected to open in Fall 2012, is fully functional.

“It should be student-directed and have a focus on spectrum and intersection,” Pousson said. “(It) should be on the entire community, not just one aspect of it.”