Friday Philosophy: prelude to apathy?

It’s that time of year again.  Next week is Gay Pride Week on campus here at Bloomfield College.  Sometimes it is a little earlier, but usually it is a little later.  But the second week of April includes Easter Break, so it was now or never.

I’d love it if it were a time of joy.  But I often find it to be rather depressing.  I’ve been one of the co-coordinators of the Gay/NonGay Alliance since I got a full-time job here in 2001.  I wish I could say it has been rewarding.

The truth is that it has all been an uphill journey.  No matter which direction one looks, it is uphill.

Once upon a time, I don’t know how many years before I came, the Alliance fought the good fight…and won.  Bloomfield was one of the first institutions in New Jersey to offer domestic partner benefits.  Since I have been here, the percentage of the full-time faculty who are GLBT has ranged between 10 and 15 percent…on a mostly minority campus just north of Newark.  Both the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Director of Residential Education and Housing are lesbians.

But since I have been here, student engagement on GLBT issues has been close to non-existent.  So next week will be Gay Pride Week.  Will any students choose to show up?    

We provide some links:

As you might notice up there, I have some writing to do so that I can speechify at the Prop 8 Pep Rally at noon on Friday.  Sometime between now and next Friday I will find the words.  And I will speak them…but they will almost certainly once again be words preached to the choir…and the choir will mostly be faculty and staff.  I’ve always found the aftermath of that to be rather dismal.

I’d love to help generate the enthusiasm of the following young gentleman, James Neiley, who recently spoke to the Vermont Senate.  I’d love, in my latter years, to be able to watch the activism in people with the knowledge that I may have had some small hand in helping to initiate it.

I’d love to know that someone will carry on after I can do this no more.

I understand the sentiment which says that there is less activism because this is not an issue for young people.  I could accept that better, probably, if that were true on this campus.  But this is still a place where, unless a gay person is a faculty or staff member or plays the class clown, it is not emotionally safe to be openly GLBT.  Too many of our students who are willing to tell us that they are queer completely avoid telling their friends.

And that is not the way their world should be.

A few words from Harvey Milk:

And a few words from me:

Rainbow Colors

Attrition Blues

I watch you

as you grow

learn some things

take baby steps


hoping for more

ever willing

to teach you

how to make it so


waiting for victory

through attrition

has a sour taste

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 27, 2009


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    • Robyn on March 27, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    …to keep hope alive.  When people think that human rights should be negotiated, that people should be able to “agree to disagree” about the rights of others, that calling a form of bigotry what it is out of place, and that hatred has a legitimate place in politics and law, it gets really hard.

    Next week should be a time of celebration.  When people can’t feel safe to celebrate themselves, it is doubtful it will be.

    It seems I have very little in the way of music this week.

    • Alma on March 27, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    to get young people active, but I don’t.

    Looks like lots of good programs happening for the week.  I was hoping with prop 8 passing that it might have opened up some eyes and sparked more folks to participating.

    The art is AWESOME, and the poem too!

    • Robyn on March 28, 2009 at 12:33 am

    …in Orange.

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