Three self-proclaimed militants who say they are dissatisfied with the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Transgender and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) held the first introductory meeting of the Queer Resistance Front (QRF) this week.
The QRF—a radical group aiming make political statements through direct action—plans to protest events promoting conservative anti-queer politics, as well as BGLTSA events promoting what QRF organizers describe as mainstream gay politics.
Organizers Jessica M. Rosenberg ’04, Nico Carbellano ’04 and Yumi Lee ’04 say they think an alternative to the BGLTSA is needed because they consider the gay politics advocated by the BGLTSA too “identity-based,” focussing too much on requesting inclusion in established societal organizations such as marriage or the army.
According to Carbellano, QRF organizers desire “not to be included within social categories, but rather to work to disrupt those categories through which social power operates.”
The BGLTSA initially looked favorably at the QRF, believing it “could work as a constructive complement to the BGLTSA,” says BGLTSA co-chair Stephanie Skier ’05.
Skier pointed to acts of civil disobedience—which the BGLTSA is prohibited from performing as an official student group—as a way that QRF activities could supplement the BGLTSA’s queer activism on campus.
However, Skier says that now “it has become apparent that the QRF’s sole target has become the BGLTSA, based on hasty presumptions and generalizations.”
She says that the QRF is “completely inaccurate to say the BGLTSA has identity-based politics, and rather that it has coalition-based politics.”
Skier says that since the BGLTSA is the largest organization of queer students on campus, it tries to be inclusive of diverse opinions as “activism must be rooted in community to be effective.”
The QRF’s name is a play on the late 1960s group the Gay Liberation Front, which was a radical movement in its time.
QRF leaders say that they chose to replace “gay” with “queer” to be more inclusive and to replace “liberation” with “resistance,” because, as Carbellano explains, “liberation is too utopian, resistance is more active, more of an ongoing process.”
Though at the moment the group has no concrete plans for the year, QRF organizers say they want the group to act as an ad hoc organization that catalyzes queer activism on campus, aiming to incite campus discussion on queer politics and to establish a presence that is, Rosenberg says, “always critical, always active, always vocal.”
Much of such criticism will undoubtedly be directed towards the BGLTSA, which has, according to Rosenberg, “a lot of inertia because it is so large and inclusive.”
BGLTSA leaders defend the group by pointing to its long list of activities last year and at the beginning of this school year. Early this month, for example, they protested and picketed the ROTC table at the Freshman and Upperclass Activities Fairs for their “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy towards queer members of the military.
The QRF made its first public appearance on campus earlier this week, when organizers hung posters across campus with the slogan “Queer and Peerless” to advertise the QRF’s introductory meeting Monday night.
The QRF’s poster slogan “Queer and Peerless” is a play on the BGLTSA slogan “We Support Our Queer Peers.”
QRF organizers say that the BGLTSA’s slogan is too ambiguous and could be read as allowing for the continuation of heteronormativity—i.e. “we” could be read to mean heterosexual supporters and the slogan could imply that queers need the support of heterosexuals.
But BGLTSA leaders contend that the slogan was simply meant show solidarity in the face of recent conservative attacks on queer students at Harvard College.
The BGLTSA is well-known as accepting all queer people, regardless of whether they are comfortable going public with their sexual orientation.
Rosenberg says QRF intends to be a political advocacy group and not a social group, and that to participate individuals must be comfortable and public with their sexuality.
“There are no silent members,” she says.