A Closer Look at the Charms That Represent Our Personalities
Lea Krusemeyer (She/Her) // Staff Writer
Chelle Lussi (any) // Illustrator
When it comes to self-expression, keychains have emerged as a powerful tool for showcasing one’s identity. Especially for queer individuals, keychains have taken on new significance, becoming a symbol of pride, belonging, and personal narrative. While wandering around Capilano University’s beautiful campus, one can not help but notice the jingling of hundreds of keys and little accessories. Those chains hold a significant role in every student’s life, carrying the keys to their houses, cars, and jobs. However, space on a keychain usually allows for more than just house keys, there is space for memories of a past vacation or merch from their favorite band—possibilities are endless when it comes to the decoration of the little rings that hold our life.
Queer keychains go beyond the functional purpose of holding keys; they are portable declarations of identity. From the vibrant colors of the LGBTQIA2S+ pride flag to symbols like rainbows, gender symbols and more, these keychains carry a spectrum of stories. Each element on a keychain is like a brushstroke, creating a canvas that speaks to the person’s unique journey. Just like art, it can not be defined in one way. Some may call it too much and some may think it can never be enough, no matter if your chain only holds two things or ten, it tells the world your unique story if we are just mindful enough to pay attention.
Alex (they/them) uses their keychain as an embodiment of their artistic personality. They pair a transgender pride flag with a flute charm to create a fusion of personal identity and creative passion. The keychain becomes a representation of both their identity as a transgender individual and their love for art—a reminder that their identity is a masterpiece, a collection of ideas and passions and belonging to a group. Every day while walking around the campus and rushing between classes, Alex knows that the core of their personality is with them wherever they go. “I do this for more than just myself though, if another student sees my little trans flag charm and feels less alone because of it, my mission is complete,” Alex said. It is about community, about standing together and lifting each other up in a world that otherwise tries to bring people down at every chance it gets.
This feeling of community seems to be a pattern when it comes to queer individuals. Sam (she/her), whose keychain caught my attention at Phibbs Exchange one day, told me that she made her core group of friends because of the LGBTQ+ charms she carries on her chain. The chain, which features a rainbow flag as well as a lesbian symbol, is more than just an accessory; it’s a beacon of friendship. “One day when I was sitting in Birch having lunch, my keys were on the table and two students came up to me to ask about the lesbian charm I had on them. They just wanted to know where I got it but out of that conversation an incredible friendship was born,” Sam said. These symbols spark conversations and educate others about LGBTQIA2S+ experiences and identities. Sam’s choice of keychain not only reflects her journey but also serves as a conversation starter to build relationships on campus.
Queer keychains are more than just adornments; they open doors to conversations that might otherwise remain unspoken. A simple glance at someone’s keychain during class or at lunch can lay the ground for discussions about identity, experiences, and shared struggles. These conversations foster connections among strangers, turning everyday encounters with hundreds of students into meaningful exchanges that benefit everyone’s life. In the best case, new friendships are born out of those conversations and our community grows.
As CapU makes efforts to become more inclusive, new resources are offered. With the women’s center, the Indigenous Students center as well as the Students of Color Collective and the queer resource center, CapU seems to make efforts to become a more inclusive and safer place for all students. Queer people play a role in shaping this environment because no one can tell our stories as well as we can ourselves. Visibility normalizes diverse identities and sends a message that acceptance is not only encouraged but celebrated. In this way, keychains act as beacons of diversity contributing to the larger movement for equality, not just at CapU but everywhere. We are vibrant, we are loud and most of all we are a diverse community of individuals.
However, many students still struggle with feeling comfortable showcasing their identities publicly, in light of a rise of hate crimes against the queer community this is a sad but real truth. There were students that I met on campus who opted out of commenting due to fear of identification.
For those students, their charms are a personal statement for themselves. They are careful to not leave their keys laying around and their charms are harder to clock as queer themed. This is a reminder that everyone’s journey is different and that there is not just one way to show your queerness. For some, their chains and charms are a loud and proud statement about who they are, yelling from the top of the roof that they are valid and demanding their spot on the table, while for others they are a private reminder that who they are is good enough, and others do not define their identity.
It seems like finding like minded people and having a feeling of belonging is the common ground when looking at these keychains. It is the community that holds us together as a society and showcasing charms that celebrate that belonging is the first step to building strong and meaningful connections.