For many, “queer” is not an immediately definable word. Some people only know the word from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and thus derive the meaning from a show centered on fashion and style. To some it means “homosexual,” while to some it means “gay,” and still to others it may imply bi- or pan-sexuality. As such, we applaud the Queer Students and Allies’ recent decision to change its mission statement to include the more widely encompassing terms “questioning and allied students,” as well as QSA’s initiative to incorporate more ethnic and cultural identities into its work. We feel that QSA’s revamping of its goals is a positive step toward creating a more comprehensive and representative student group that will thereby be better able to cater to its members and Harvard’s population as a whole.
We hope that the QSA will follow this announcement with actions that show it truly desires a broader and more diverse base of members. The new mission statement implies that the QSA intends to move in a more inclusive direction, rather than remain mainly a support group for queer students. As such, we feel it would be an excellent move on the QSA’s part to host campus events that not only promote awareness of queer culture and issues but also are directed at students of all sexualities in an attempt to promote greater intercultural understanding and acceptance.
Specifically, the QSA should focus on breaking down the stereotypes associated with LGBTQ issues, from issues of social justice to everyday life. It is important for people to know that the problems faced by these groups are not simply ghettoized or sequestered to one portion of the population. We feel it is important, therefore, to focus on outreach not only to persons struggling with issues of sexuality but also to those who want to know more about the queer culture, and perhaps help those who need it in “coming out.”
Moreover, the QSA would undoubtedly benefit from spreading awareness about queer culture and issues to the rest of campus. Positive public relations, especially in this time of tumultuous social change, is something from which the QSA could greatly benefit. We applaud the QSA in rewriting its mission statement to promote its goal of becoming a more open, inclusive community. Identity is a complicated entity, and this is a development that, if handled correctly, will hopefully lead to a more thorough and open on-campus dialog about issues of identity and sexuality.