On the advice of a professor I trust and respect, I decided to attend a meeting yesterday afternoon conducted by Alliance, my school’s local LGBT group. I did it mostly as a favor to this faculty member, since she was concerned about my emotional health and wellness and thought that the club might be good for me.
I entered the room, and immediately noticed the whiteness of most of the attendees. It was maybe 65% white/ 35% black. Before attending yesterday, I tried to go the previous week, but was fed misinformation about the meeting place so I didn’t attend, and I wondered about the racial makeup of the attendees, specifically how white it might be. There might’ve been more non-white club members who didn’t show up to the meeting that have attended at other times, but I didn’t get the sense that there was a low turn-out or anything. In fact, in comparison to other schools’ LGBT club membership, my school’s might have a high racial diversity. Regardless, I was still turned off by it a bit.
It seems every week, at the beginning of the club meetings, attendees go around the room and introduce themselves (I guess so the secretary can keep attendance) and give a high and a low of their week so far. One member said that his theretofore high was that he saw a cute guy somewhere. His low of the week so far was that “he’s not gay.” What gets me is that he didn’t say “he doesn’t like men”, but said he’s doesn’t identify as gay and therefore doesn’t like men. I suppose that whether this attendee’s statement is problematic (specifically erasing bi, queer, and otherwise non-LG and hetero people and their identities) or not depends on how the cute guy he met worded his rejection. Still though, even if the man the attendee met worded his rejection in a problematic way, the attendee didn’t have to word it similarly.
I’ve starting reading Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out , a book about bisexual people’s experiences and, among other topics, biphobia, both within and without the LG community. I briefly thought of myself as bisexual, though not anymore, which might be influenced by some biphobia on my part (I found it difficult to identify as bisexual, even to myself) and also by (what I think are) the different ways I’m attracted to women and men. In fact, I’ve felt more of a connection with identifying as gay, though I don’t (certainly, some attraction to women and/or cis-female gentalia doesn’t automatically exclude a person from gay identity). Hence, this attendee’s wording of his low of the week struck a chord with me. Currently, I don’t identify as anything with regard to my sexual orientation.
What’s more, I found the club president very annoying, especially his voice, and since he’s the one who usually speaks the most, this affects my opinion of the club. Other club members had annoying voices, too, and there was some atrocious banter going on with obscure references to God-knows-what: probably some counterculture entertainer or author. I’ve thought some about whether my annoyance at some of their voices and banter is evidence that I might be a (mild) misanthrope, something I wondered off and on before.
I live at home (because it’s cheaper, though it’s not good for my emotional health) and I noticed that almost all the club meeting was spent talking about off-campus events that would probably be out of the way for me. I’m not knocking their prioritizing off-campus events over on-campus ones, but it’s just not for me. If most of the meeting time is spent discussing stuff I can’t attend, I don’t really have a practical use for that. I was hoping that this LGBT school club would be more of a discussion thing, not so much hammering out dates and times for building floats for a Pride parade or a movie night at someone’s house, though those things can be cool, too.
Toward the end of the club meeting, the room smelled just like Play-Doh, though from what I could tell none was out in the open.
Also, the president mentioned the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) a few times, at the end of the meeting even asking attendees whether they’d like to volunteer making calls for them. This put up a red flag because the club claims to be LGBT (“T” for people of Trans* identity) and HRC has been noted several times to be transphobic, particularly by playing into respectability politics. I don’t know whether there were any Trans* people at the club meeting, but I’m curious as to whether anybody pointed out the HRC’s transphobia when he mentioned volunteer opportunity. By the time he noted this to us, I was out the door.
Also, I somehow got the idea that a guy I’m digging might attend the meeting, but he didn’t. The day of the missed meeting I saw him by the location of the meeting (though I didn’t then know it). When I figured out where the meeting would be held, I got all hopeful in my hindsight. *Sigh*