Columns / Discourse / February 18, 2009

Ask The Queer Sandwich: An open dialogue between TKS readers and The Gay BLT

This term, Common Ground, Knox’s LGBTA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangender and Ally) student alliance, organized our first-ever (dare we say: first annual?) Ally Rally week. We were excited when we discovered that TKS would be covering the events, but when the paper came out, we were disappointed by David Nolan’s article, “Common Ground reaches out to the ally community.”

The headline of the article hit our intention straight on (no pun intended.) However, the article itself didn’t make much sense outside of the context of the events, so it didn’t serve as a quick summary for those who weren’t able to attend. The Questions Forum, which we considered to be our most important event, was hardly covered. There were several instances of misquoting and misrepresentation of facts and opinions. And most importantly, except for its headline, the article didn’t really address the intention and goals of our Ally Rally.

We don’t think this article was intentionally misleading or irresponsible. We couldn’t be more grateful of the fact that we go to a school where not one but two articles about the queer community are published in the student newspaper. We thank TKS wholeheartedly for their support and their efforts to treat us fairly, objectively, and respectfully.

There was some irresponsible and sloppy journalism that took place here, sure. But we also asked ourselves: Could the true issue be that we are not being as clear and open as we thought? Could it be the case that even our most ardent supporters still don’t really understand us?

We want to take this opportunity not to point fingers, but to take a constructive step forward. At this year’s Big Gay conference, we learned the importance of being out, loud, proud, and clear. So, listen up Knox: we are here to be out, open, and (hopefully) clear to you on a regular basis, not just one week out of the year.

Thus we, the Gay BLT Sandwich (Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato, or Bisexual-Lesbian-Transgender), will discuss relevant issues and answer your questions in a regular column. This week, we address the Ally Rally from our own perspective.

We created the Ally Rally Week with one goal in mind: to reach out to Knox’s large population of straight allies on campus. We wanted to educate, empower, and entertain these allies, and show them that they have a place in our club and in the queer community as a whole.

During the Ally Rally, we aimed to be clear and explicit about who we are as a club, as a community, and as individuals. During our “Stupid (and not so stupid) Questions Forum,” we opened ourselves up to answer every embarrassing or so-called “stupid” question people could throw at us, hoping that allies would respond by opening themselves up to ask.

Above all, we want to show Knox that Common Ground is a safe space, and it’s not just for LGBT people. Our safe space is something that was specifically threatened by Nolan’s article: he said that we had people share their sexual orientation when they introduced themselves at our activism meeting, which is completely untrue—Common Ground will listen if you want to come out but will never push people to share more than they are willing.

We accomplished these goals through three activities: the questions forum, which served to educate and enlighten our allies; the activism meeting, which served to empower allies to make small and large scale change; and the drag show, which served to let people explore a new gender presentation (and have fun, of course.) We thought the week went really well, and we look forward to doing it again.

Did you miss our questions forum? Do you still have a question about queer identity that you didn’t get answered? Do you have questions about Knox’s current gender neutral housing initiative? We would love to feature your question or topic suggestion in a future column—see the contact information below.

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The Gay BLT is a group of Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender and straight Common Ground members who are committed to being out and open to the Knox community.

To ask a question or suggest a topic, email Michael Martínez at emartine@knox.edu or send a note anonymously to K-1374. This week’s contributors: Brittany Alsot, Cameron Burke, Charles Ely, Michael Martínez, Ellie Poley, and Peter Thomas.

The Gay BLT


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