BGLSA Leaders' Goal Is Visibility

News Analysis

One of the first actions the new leaders of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association say they will take will be to reconnect the phone that has remained dormant in their Memorial Hall office since October.

It may not seem like much, but the reconnection represents the BGLSA's renewed commitment to campus visibility. With the election of a new slate of officers, the BGLSA is planning a year of political activism--a distinct change for the organization that has formulated moderate and delayed responses to campus issues such as the choice of Gen. Colin L. Powell as Commencement speaker and a controversial poster campaign by a conservative student group.

Newly elected Co-chairs Dennis K. Lin '93-94 and Robert E. Giannino '94-'95 will head up BGLSA's new leadership, along with Vice-Chairs Royce C. Lin '96 and Theodore K. Gideonse '96. The April 28 elections also re-instated publicity director Christopher W. Gattis '91, who assumed the added responsibilities of social director.

The new BGLSA leadership plans to take on a much stronger political stance than the previous board. Through more social events and increased political action, it plans to and make the group's campus presence felt more keenly.

"My passion is politics, is activism, is being involved," says Giannino, who has been politically active outside Harvard, taking a year off from school to run for the Somerville school board and to help organize community service in the schools there.


"There seemed to be a de-amplifi- cation of politics this year," Gideonse says. "There was no BGLSA response to the AALARM [Association Against Learning in the Absence of Religion and Morality] posters. The BGLSA response to Colin Powell took a long time and wasn't very forceful."

Gideonse is not alone among his fellow officers in his belief that "political response should be early and often." The organization will likely become more politically active because of the interests of its co-chairs.

"It's going to be much more political because Bob and I are political people," Dennis Lin says.

Last spring BGLSA activism surged in response to a 56-page issue of Peninsula magazine that focused on homosexuality. The conservative journal's cover featured a drawing of an exploding pink triangle, and included articles asserting that homosexuality was a "bad alternative."

BGLSA responded with a rally against the magazine at Tercentenary Theatre, with about 200 people in attendance. The group also organized eat-ins at the Union and Lowell House dining hall that attracted more than 100 people.

Since then, however, the organization has not launched any comparable response efforts. The departure this semester of two of the organization's co-chairs, Season N. Ray '94 and Rachel E. Cohen '94, made similar activism efforts more difficult, some members say.

Gattis says this core group of BGLSA leaders took on many of the responsibilities for mobilizing the group in the absence of large numbers of active members.

"[Former Co-chairs Javier Romero '95 and John Frazier '95] had to carry a lot of the work. I think the problem this semester is that everyone is fairly busy and the core group is so small. It is fairly difficult to have a unified anything," says Gattis.

Frazier believes that although this semester did not see peak BGLSA member activity, it was not without accomplishment.

According to the former co-chair, the group's political leanings were less than noticeable outside the gay community this past semester because meetings focused more on internal issues of the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.

"I think all groups go through a period where there is a lull in activism or a lull in people participating," Frazier says. "We've done a lot of political stuff this year. It's an issue of visibility."