Ricki Hollins

College is usually a time where people come into their own and hit their stride as an adult. Here at Davidson, we provide ample spaces of support that are supposed to make our college experience comfortable. When you finally become comfortable with all of your social identities usually you will have a space to go and be who you are. However, what happens when your identities don’t perfectly fit into a space?
I found that I have had to sacrifice parts of myself in order to fit into the spaces that were supposed to be for me. I am an asexual, aromantic lesbian, black, low-income mother from a place in Chicago that I am so proud of (but many wouldn’t dream of going to). I started off here with a group of friends with race being our common ground. Although I was happy to be around brown faces on a white campus, my economic status separated me from the group. I did not go to a private day or boarding school, I knew what it was like to go without basic necessities, and to me being at Davidson was pure luck. Many people in my neighborhood never made it out of Chicago. I had no problem talking about my experiences, but I was seen as the minority “stereotype” that many were trying to separate themselves from.
The greatest and most challenging task I encountered here was being a mother and a college student. I was told to transfer because the chances of me finishing college here was pretty low. I remember not being chosen to speak to incoming Davidson students because my experience is an exception not the rule. I was on my own and had to fend for myself. I had a lot of time to evaluate my life and how I got here. Being a mother did not make my workload any easier, but made my motivation to accept every part of who I am greater. I began to question my happiness and attraction to men. Coming from a religious family I was not able to even learn about any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality, even though I found women way more attractive. Feeling like I had to be with men was painful, but as a result I now have a beautiful 2 year old daughter. I began to evaluate my past relationships, looking up terms on the queer spectrum that described me, and talking to peers I knew who could refer me to the right space.
When I was referred to the queer resources on campus, I felt like I would finally find the space I was looking for. Due to the term “intersectionality” being ever so popular in the community, I assumed that all my identities would be accepted. I was wrong. I was constantly questioned about my attractions to women because of my history with men. It felt like I always had to prove that I was truly a non-gender conforming non-heterosexual human being. I was never able to claim my asexuality because no one understood how an asexual person could have a child. Not only that, but the thought of not wanting to have sex was weird to everyone I told. I got questions like: “What do you mean you are okay with not wanting a relationship? How do you not have sex with a significant other? Ricki, are you even capable of love?” For the sake of my sanity, I exited the final space on campus that was supposed to be for me.
However, I did not come out alone. I met a person who later would become my best friend and chosen family. He was the first person at Davidson to accept all of my identities at face value. All the nights of crying and soul searching have been made in the spaces that we now occupy together. It took 4 years, but I finally feel like I can be my whole self at Davidson College.
To all of the students, especially first-years, you are who you are. Many people will not like every part of who you are, but always remember that this is what makes you special. You are a complex human being and should never feel like any part of that being is dormant. Instead, it should coexist. Being a mother makes me no less of an asexual, and being low-income makes me no less of a black Davidson student. It is not about finding a space to accept you, but rather a chosen family to occupy spaces with. Your Davidson experience will be so much more valuable because you accept yourself and have others to remind you that that is perfectly okay.

Ricki Hollins `16 is an Economics and Sociology major from Chicago, Illinois. Contact her at erhollins@davidson.edu.