BGLTSA Votes To Change Name to QSA

The Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance voted unanimously yesterday to change the organization’s name to the Harvard College Queer Students and Allies.

The board sent an e-mail to the organization’s open list about the possibility of a name change last week, spurring a passionate debate comprising over 50 e-mails about the proposed renaming.

But despite the fervor and length of the e-mail responses, few QSA members who were not on the board attended yesterday’s open board meeting, and no objections to the new name were raised at that time.

“The majority of the objections were from gay men who weren’t involved in BGLTSA,” said QSA co-chair Marco Chan ’11. In contrast, the women who responded tended to support the change, according to QSA Secretary Christian L. Garland ’10.

In an online poll of the QSA membership, a slight majority of the 99 voters supported changing the name to QSA. But the vote of general members was not material to the actual name change, which only required unanimous agreement among board members.

Most of those who objected on the e-mail list specifically cited their disapproval of using the word queer. But at the meeting, board members emphasized that the gay community is increasingly embracing the term.

“For those students who are coming to Harvard for the first time and have negative connotations of the word queer, I think having Queer Students and Allies will help reclaim the word,” Garland said.

Using the word “queer” isn’t new for the QSA—as their Web site URL, www.hcs.harvard.edu/~queer, has included the word for years.

The change is intended to make the organization’s name more inclusive, according to Chan.

QSA Co-Chair Rogelio J. Mercado, Jr. ’10 provided the example of an e-mail he once received from an asexual prefrosh who was unsure about whether the QSA—then the BGLTSA—would welcome asexuals.

“We want to open it up so anyone who might identify as queer or an ally can feel like the name includes them and addresses them,” Chan said.

—Staff writer Danielle J. Kolin can be reached at dkolin@fas.harvard.edu.