Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Call to Expand GU Pride Focus

I have become discouraged by the dominant LGBTQ rhetoric on our campus. It has rightfully demanded a reaction from the administration, student protest and campus solidarity in response to the recent bias-related assaults – and, in so doing, has demonstrated a tendency to focus on its own mission to the exclusion of other, related issues.

At least one of the victims of the recent physical assaults near campus was targeted due a perceived identity as a member of the LGBTQ community. There has also been a bias-related verbal assault, and an anti-gay graffiti display. Without question, a message is being sent to members of the LGBTQ community on the Hilltop: We are not safe, and we certainly should not feel comfortable sporting our “I am” T-shirts. GU Pride and other organizers have successfully stirred an appropriate outcry from the broader Georgetown community. GU Pride is rightfully pushing for security measures, administrative accountability and Department of Public Safety wage adjustments.

After acknowledging the commendable work GU Pride has done in the past few months, however, I want to address what is missing from their outcries. In addition to expressing protest at the recent bias-related incidents, GU Pride – and the broader Georgetown community – should be asking important questions about why these alleged hate crimes have shaken Georgetown so powerfully when more general sexual assaults fail to trigger comparable community outrage. I am concerned that the LGBTQ movement has adopted a rhetoric that has disengaged it from conversations around persisting race-, class- and gender-based marginalization.

The ways in which many in the LGBTQ community articulate their feelings of marginalization depend, to an extent, on exclusionary and forgetful politics that are quick to ignore rampant manifestations of inequality facing other communities. Even when oppression based on gender, class or race is brought into the conversation, it is only of secondary importance. Leaders in the LGBTQ community at Georgetown have become adept at delivering shout-outs to other marginalized communities, but consistently fail to follow up on these pledged alliances.

GU Pride has correctly made a stand against a culture of violence on campus. I did not notice a visible presence of its members at the Take Back the Night vigil on sexual assault last Friday, however. That is not to say that they were not present, but – given recent events – a more vocal input would have been warranted. While campus leaders from the Georgetown chapter of the NAACP, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán de Georgetown, the Women’s Center and Take Back the Night attended the GU Pride vigil following the second bias-related assault and pledged their support to the LGBTQ community, GU Pride can still do more to communicate its solidarity with the struggles facing other communities.

It deeply troubles me, for example, that sexual assaults committed against women on or around campus generally count merely as numbers in Georgetown’s sexual assault statistics. One in four female college students nationwide report surviving rape or attempted rape. Where is the LGBTQ community’s outcry? If GU Pride truly wants a cultural change at Georgetown in regard to violence, it needs to transform its ideological commitment to exclusively LGBTQ-focused crimes. LGBTQ organizers need at once to challenge Georgetown’s allegedly heteronormative culture and examine their own positions with regard to other communities.

The focus of my concern is the LGBTQ community’s employment of solidarity networks to advance its cause and subsequent failures to reciprocate that solidarity in a meaningful way. Solidarity has been misconstrued as a word exclusively used as a call to other groups to rally around LGBTQ causes. As a former member of GU Pride, it has been my experience that the rare outreach that the group engages in with other marginalized communities is driven by self-interest; this communicates little desire to educate itself on issues of race, class, gender and disability. At best, it is lip service; at worst, it is a façade for inaction around race-, gender- and class-based oppressions.

The membership of the Facebook group “Once is enough: Stop the Hate at Georgetown,” has increased in the past few weeks, and its message is a valuable one. We can all agree that once is too much. But the reality is that for many individuals of different minorities, crimes of hatred do not occur only once per semester. Rather, they are a pervasive part of the lived experiences of historically oppressed communities.

Today’s gay rights movement on campus trumpets its calls for justice from a place of privilege. While that call is certainly necessary and worthwhile, it’s time that we re-evaluate our priorities and examine our blind spots as a movement headed primarily by white, upper-class, educated gays. We need to find a way both to focus on our LGBTQ-specific concerns and communicate our anger without losing sight of the other groups who suffer similar marginalization. If we are not critical of our steps and words, we risk fighting for a movement that advances only a “certain type” of LGBTQ person and perpetuates the injustices we claim to be combating.

arion Cory is a senior in the College and a former member of GU Pride.

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