The Rainbow Funeral

By Guest Contributor

May 2012, I was elected to be a new Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA) President, or “President of the gays” as one of my exchange friends used to call me in her strong Russian accent. It was a very random decision of mine and I accepted the role with a lot of excitement; over the summer I designed the leaflets and planned some events for the upcoming year. In the fall, I managed to bring a drag performer from Germany and organized some parties. While the parties were certainly not the best, the stripping woman in Crossroads gained a lot of attention. I was pumped about the semester, but I should have seen the decay.

I am talking about the inherent problems of many student organizations on this campus: free-riding. MOQA has been facing decreasing membership activity for a long time. It was almost always about three student leaders organizing all the activities. Attendance at the meetings was the most obvious problem. We went from seniors checking out “fresh meat” in the beginning of the semester to maybe 10 active members and then to three co-chairs meeting with two or three other people. I talked to other student leaders; supposedly this problem is not MOQA-only. Do we then participate in some student orgs just to have something cool on our résumés? Probably not, but it is one of the factors. What then does membership mean? Being on an email list?

I saw the problem, so I created a survey for MOQA members. I mostly asked what they want to improve, what they dislike and what they like. We got 22 answers; some of them were creative, while some asked us to do more activism without explaining how to accomplish that. I guess that we should make everyone wear pink T-shirts to show their support for our poor group since this campus is so oppressive. I expected people to come to discuss what they wanted since we showed a will to change. But no, just the few loyal members showed up. Despite the disinterest, we organized more events during Gaypril than in the past few. We brought Leslea Newman for $1500 and advertised it. Four people showed up. We had a talk about HIV/AIDS. Three people showed up. No one showed up for our screenings. Nobody is running for our next elections.

After that, I just completely gave up. It is a waste of time to organize events for the less than 10 people who come to the meetings. Throughout the year a lot of my friends complained that we don’t organize any parties anymore or that we need more hang-outs. I told them to come to meetings and propose it, but nobody did. They claimed they felt too uncomfortable there. Man, I do too sometimes. You think we are overly academic?  Me too. I feel unwanted, useless and upset, and I also got a shining rainbow sticker for being a MOQA co-chair.

Thus I would like to announce a disbandment of MOQA as a student organization. At our last meeting, the active members discussed the future of MOQA and unanimously voted in favor of disbanding it. I believe that it will be a merciful death to this organization that no longer seems to be wanted on campus. We submit to market forces; no demand shuts us down.

Hail to the first top liberal arts school without any LGBTQA group on campus, yet we have affirmative action! And we can only blame ourselves and our allies for this. Myself included.

PETR KNOR 16 is from Prague, Czech Republic