It was a hell of a weekend. I knew I was in deep when I sat listening to Susan Stryker, a male-to-female transsexual who emanated power and form as she discussed spirituality and a Stonewallesque riot that occurred in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. It was a fine end to the 13th annual UC Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Association Conference .
Approximately thirty-five UCSB students ventured up to UC Berkeley for the conference, a yearly gathering for queer students and their supporters to attend workshops, socialize and learn more about what’s happening in the queer community. It was three days of no sleep, bad food, tearing down hetero-centrist norms and gleefully trodding on the pieces. The problem is, the only people who knew about the conference are those who went or those who wanted to, but didn’t have enough money to go.
While there is a sore need for queer youth to venture out and learn about the theory, history and sociology of their own community, what’s even more important is that this information be spread back to the straight population.
The night before I left for the conference, I overheard a conversation in which a woman was trying to figure out the best way to ask her friend if he was gay. In all seriousness, “Do you take it up the ass?” was the best she could come up with.
Let’s also not forget the stunningly brilliant comment made by A.S. Off-Campus Representative Martin Doyle about his impressive array of lesbian pornography, either.
The heterosexual community is falling into a sense of complacency with itself; they might watch an episode or two of “Will and Grace”or catch about fifteen minutes of “Queer As Folk” and feel they now know the intricacies of gender politics, stereotypes and human rights.
Little do they know, though, the queer population faces problems in all arenas, from immigration and political asylum, to civil marriages and outreach to youth without any support or voice.
Education and activism are tough work. I’ve seen students here worn to the bone or completely shattered by the difficulties and frustration they feel in trying to bring both unity to the queer community and light to the minds of the ignorant.
It’s tough, grueling work.
That’s why it’s important that both sides – the heterosexual and the queer communities – come together. Queer students need to bring their desire to inform and be active, while the straight community should come with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
While I was at the conference, I spoke with a pleasant middle-aged woman named Jonnie who told me how difficult it was trying to organize students at Cal Poly Pamona. She said it was important to bring students in when they first get to school, otherwise they’ll take two or three years before they manage to start educating themselves.
Stacey Shears, director of UCSB’s Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, echoed Jonnie’s statement. She told me that more students need to get involved, and not just those from the queer community on campus.
This lack of involvement not only destroys the social support network for queer students on campus but also hinders any action to move campus/community policies and education forward. The slow death of the QSU is one example, although its deterioration is as much a result of its poor planning and organization as it is from lack of support by the community.
It’s time everyone came to the table on this one. The entire queer alphabet is here, every color in the goddamn rainbow, so you might as well learn how to live with us. After all, we’ve had to put up with you.
Daily Nexus columnist Steven Ruszczycky has nothing against pornography. He has nothing against straights. In fact, he owns a lot of straight pornography. His column runs Tuesdays.