Photo by Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons
It’s a Tuesday night on campus and a small classroom in Haines is bustling with people. There’re no professors about, and no food, but Queer alliance is hosting a public town hall event to discuss issues specifically facing the queer community on campus.
The night started with an icebreaker, a basic line-up, meet the person in front of you game and then swap. Strangely or not so strangely enough, it seemed that most of the people were at least remotely familiar with everyone else, making it tempting to conclude that the queer community is incredibly tight-knit. Perhaps, if the 30 or so odd people in the room could be called an accurate representation of the queer community at UCLA.
The night continued with the people breaking up into small groups to discuss what possible issues facing the community were. After some talking, everyone regrouped to have these issues we discussed written on the blackboard. And there were a lot, we filled three blackboards with the number of possibly difficult situations facing the community. The blackboards were soon filled with words like micro-aggressions, misunderstanding of transgenderism, homophobic slurs, etc., and it wasn’t until the last half hour that one person raised his hand with the question, “What about positives?”
What about positives? And what about solutions for that matter? After over an hour of talking about the problems, we spent maybe fifteen minutes looking for solutions, to which the general answer was, “participate more”. To me, it seemed like preaching to the choir, talking to the few people who probably do attend more than one queer alliance org, instead of the multitudes who don’t attend meetings and not surprisingly, didn’t show up to this one either.
Maybe the event was about raising awareness about queer issues, but just taking a look at the people who show up to these events might be indicative of how effective they are. There are many more LGBT-identified students on campus than those who showed up Tuesday, and it always ends up being those same few people showing up for org meetings. Why is this? Why do broad events aimed at bringing together our greater community turn into little complaint sessions for the same few people?
It’s understandably hard to bring out people who just don’t come out to events, and to discuss implementing solutions if all you have on hand are the same people every time. But in order to work towards solutions, you have to give clear, tangible steps that people can work towards (especially with bringing out more people), or people are going to keep doing exactly what they’ve been doing all along. And if that’s all we need to be satisfied, then maybe we should question whether or not we should be complaining, if we don’t care enough to start finding real solutions and actually getting involved.