Thursday, October 1, 2009

I attend queer student meetings

Wow, this has been a long week. I have been working continuously to organize the officers of BASS, the Bruin Alliance of Skeptics and Secularists. I'll tell you later how that went.

At the same time, I was also attending a few queer student group meetings this week. The reasons for this are many.
  1. I am interested in how other student groups run. I've only ever really participated in BASS, and BASS is not exactly the model of organization.
  2. I want to actually join at least one group. I've decided that joining a student group can be one of the greatest joys in life.
  3. I am very interested in queer issues, and am very much in favor of queer rights. Why shouldn't I participate in groups which reflect this?
  4. I'm asexual, so in a sense I'm a little queer myself. Or does that make me an ally? Whatever.
It used to be that one of the obstacles to participating in any queer student group was fear. I think a lot of straight would-be allies have this same fear, that they might be thought gay. It's not necessarily fear of homophobia. I'm willing to stand up to homophobia. It's the fear that the opposite sex will assume that you're gay, and thus avoid you. I don't know whether this fear is justified or not, but I realize now that it simply doesn't apply to me, as an asexual. What do I care if the opposite sex thinks I'm gay? I don't care if people think I'm gay.

Anyways, there are a dozen undergraduate LGBT groups at UCLA. Most of those are part of the Queer Alliance, which is a coalition of seven different groups. I attended the main Queer Alliance meeting, a Fluid meeting (focusing on bisexuals and pansexuals), and an SCME meeting (Student Coalition for Marriage Equality). Here are my observations:
  • Ironically, first meetings are not the best way to select groups. Most of the first meeting is taken up by introductions, ice breakers, and announcements. I guess I'll be doing the same thing next week.
  • At least in SCME (which is the most politically oriented), there were actually several people I knew from BASS there. Hooray for secular support for marriage equality!
  • I was sort of worried that during introductions and ice breakers, they'd ask us to state our sexual/gender identity. If they asked me whether I'm queer or an ally, I wouldn't know how to respond! Luckily, they all know better than to do this, at least on the first meeting.
  • No, I did not out myself. Perhaps simply for lack of opportunity. I'm also afraid that either I would not have sufficient time to explain it, or I would completely derail any previous discussion. But I want to be out. Let me tell you, three years ago, when I first considered myself atheist, I was a real closet case. It was completely irrational of me. I want that to never happen again.
  • There are some interesting gender disparities going on in some of these groups. The vast majority of the bisexual/fluid group was made of women. Supposedly, most of the SCME members are either gay men or straight women. I do not know enough LGBT history to have any idea why this is. Anyways, being in the gender minority turns out to be a little disconcerting, even when I know that the group isn't doing anything wrong!
  • The bisexual/fluid group played a game called definition darts. It involved a dart board with a bunch of LGBT-related words. This dart board made me extremely happy! Why? One of the words was "asexual". Another was "LGBTQQIAA" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally). I know that the extra A is only further encumbering an already cumbersome acronym, but it still made my week.