As an editor and founder of HQ, Harvard's only magazine dedicated to bisexual, gay and lesbian issues, I must respond to an article written in the February 15 issue of the Harvard Salient which criticizes the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations for its funding of HQ and The Rag, a radical feminist publication which, to be sure, has the right to speak for itself.
Throughout, HQ and The Rag are lumped together as similar publications, when in fact, as most would concur, they have different styles, different methods and different objectives. The Rag has a political agenda which revolves along the axis of radical feminism, whereas HQ, though necessarily forced to make political statements on behalf of bi/gay/lesbian peoples, attempts simply to provide a voice for the members of our diverse community. This voice is vital, heterogeneous and too often silenced or ignored by homophobia.
Conspicuously, most of the article dwells on the quality of these nefarious publications rather than, as any competent reader would expect, the actual investment these publications have in race relations and multiculturalism.
Obviously, I was inclined to disagree with these elaborately exhausting, although ultimately trivial, criticisms of HQ, criticisms against which I'm certain the magazine can defend itself. But if the author is that intent, I'm sure he and I can find a more appropriate forum (and topic) in which to discuss the quality of that "verbally incontinent" publication for which I write. At present, I write to affirm HQ's committment to and investment in both racial equality and multiculturalism.
Myopically, the author of the Salient piece fails to note that more than any other group on campus, the bi/gay/lesbian community embodies the spirit of multiculturalism and diversity. The staff and contributing writers of our magazine are drawn from a constellation of groups, a constellation as diverse and as dedicated to true multiculturalism as any magazine staff on campus (particularly, though by no means restricted to, the conservative ones), and they write about issues ranging from coming out as a Black lesbian in Louisiana to male homoerotics in Tokugawa Japan to racism within the bi/gay/lesbian community and its impact on out relationships with other minority groups.
This represents just a smattering of the issues grappled with between the covers of HQ, issues denigrated by the Salient as "fetid excreta." Needless to say, I question the Salient's committment to racial equality when it writes off these complex and often charged subjects as "sub-amateurish." It is also important to note than the Salient article irresponsibly (and admittedly so) selects an uncharacteristic quotation to gloss judgment over the entire magazine (and dangerously close to the entire bi/gay/lesbian community), a tactic which strikes me as more "sub-amateurish" than anything printed in HQ.
And most important, The Salient wrong-headedly overlooks the crucial argument that HQ is one of the few, if not the only, voices on campus for bi/gay/lesbian people of color to express themselves, as they are often silenced by homophobia within their particular ethnic or religions group.
If the epidemic that we're in has taught us anything, it is that prejudice and hatred on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation literally kills. AIDS has spread disproportionately among gay men and-people of color (often the same people), and is now spreading most rapidly among women, particularly women of color.
Needless to say, gays and lesbians have an enormous investment in improving race relations, not only because racism divides our community, but because much of the prejudices that disempower people of color also serve to repress gays, particularly gay men and women of color.
I take comfort in knowing that the conservatives, at least nominally, have begun to talk about bi/gay/lesbian issues in an open forum. This was one of HQ's objectives--to demand discourse from those who would otherwise have ignored our legitimate voice.
I appeal both to the Harvard Foundation and to the Harvard community to talk about these issues openly and without prejudice. I'd also like to appeal to other minority groups on campus to fight homophobia and encourage sexual diversity, And lastly, to the gay community, I suggest we remember more closely Stonewall (those queens were of all colors, but predominately Latino and Latina), where we rioted hand in hand, not against ourselves, but against our common enemy.
I wish to close with a quotation from Joseph Beam, a black gay writer who died of AIDS in 1988:
I cannot go home as who I am and that hurts me deeply. (In Brother to Brother, 1991) William Tate Dougherty '94, Editor, HQ