Once at Odds, Gay Groups Move Closer Together

Publicity for Coming out Day in October 1999 featured catchphrases like, “Have more sex. Join BGLTSA” and “Can I bum a fag?”

While the postering campaign of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) certainly captured the campus’ attention then, many members of the gay and lesbian community criticized the posters as offensive and lewd.

The politicized actions of BGLTSA prompted some members to form a non-activist, apolitical gay student group called Beyond Our Normal Differences (BOND) later that week. BOND was intended to be a social organization of which even closeted students could be a part.

Old-school BGLTSA leaders disapproved of the new group’s nonconfrontational attitude.

In an interview with The Crimson last Feburary, Michael K. Tan ’01, co-chair of BGLTSA in 1999, said BOND failed to take seriously the fact that “normal differences” are part of people’s identities.

People searching for commonality, BGLTSA’s self-proclaimed “grand empress” said, should engage those differences instead of “ignoring them like idiots.”

But almost three years after BOND’s formation, some say BGLTSA is becoming increasingly less radical. It is a change that even BGLTSA Co-Chair Daniel R. Tremitiere ’02-’03 acknowledges, saying that the group was “much more political and vocal” two years ago.

“The difference in objective [of BGLTSA and BOND] is not as clear as it once was,” Tremitiere says.

Although some students criticize BGLTSA’s less political direction, they argue that having two separate groups remains valuable—even if they appear to serve the same purpose.

The Right Direction?

Some BGLTSA veterans recall with fondness the group’s more radical heyday and criticize its less political nature today.

“The BGLTSA is walking the fine line between pleasing everyone and doing nothing,” says Laure E. “Voop” de Vulpillieres ’02, a prominent member of BGLTSA whose senior thesis analyzes how the group compares to similar organizations at other colleges.

She says that while she did not approve of the 1999 postering campaign, she is concerned that BGLTSA is currently not political enough.

“There should be two organizations, but one should be politically-oriented, and the other social,” Vulpillieres says. “Now, we have two social organizations.”

Vulpillieres, who is also the secretary of Girlspot, also criticizes BGLTSA for having “no clear direction” and for “having had very few events this year.”

Vulpillieres says better group organization may hold the key, arguing that queer groups at Brandeis and Northeastern owe their success, at least in part, to their weekly meetings. In contrast, BGLTSA has held only three community meetings this year.