Queer Pride Week for UCSB is more than two months away, and the divisions within our campus’ queer community are already becoming evident. Gay Pride Week is supposed to be a time of showing solidarity, a time to show that we are not ashamed of who we are or who we love. However, haphazard plans have been made for Queer Pride Week that, instead of nurturing solidarity within the community, is fostering disparity. What is most disheartening is that these divisions appear to be falling along graduate/undergraduate and ethnic lines. The evidence for this disparity is evident in the health of the Queer Student Union.
Attendance is at an all-time low for the Queer Student Union. In fact, I can safely say the group is dead. At this week’s meeting, there were three people, including our single “officer.” The past month has had similar figures. I find this to be amazing considering the size of the student body at UCSB. What does this say to the students of UCSB when the only queer group registered with the Office of Student Life ceases to exist? The Queer Student Union is the most prominent face of the queer members of the student body, yet it is not receiving the support it should have from the queer community.
One reason that I have heard suggested for this lack of attendance is that QSU doesn’t represent the views of all of the queer community. To be blunt, that Asian queers do not share the same views as black queers or those of the Latino community or those of caucasians. In other words, racial prejudices and stereotypes are overriding our commonalities.
The Queer Student Union is far from being an exclusive group. As its website states, the QSU “is a multicultural organization that provides support for the local Santa Barbara LGBTQA Community and works politically on Queer issues.” QSU works hard to be as inclusive as possible. Meetings are confidential, so that those silent members of the queer community have a voice also. What this amounts to is that the QSU is what its members make of it.
As members of the queer UCSB community, we all need to realize that what we have in common when we identify as queer people is that we fear rejection from family and friends, ostracism from our religions, fear of abuse whether it be physical or emotional, and, most importantly, recognition of the love we can hold for another person. If these commonalities are not enough ground as a starting place for us to work together, then we have nothing to be proud about.
QSU meets Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in the meeting rooms of the MultiCultural Center. The QSU website can be found at http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Stonewall/9379/.
Michael Rasmussen is a member of the Queer Student Union.