Lily Gordon, ‘17
Amidst the familiar enticing bubble-lettered posters, homemade pastries, sign-up sheets, and the loud chatter of extracurricular campaigning, at this year’s Club Fair, several new clubs introduced themselves to BHSEC. The LGBTQ+ Club, begun last year by Gene Matthews, ’17, was one of the clubs that launched this October.
The club’s acronym stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning and the plus sign is a concise way of including an all-encapsulating representation of any other orientations or identities on the gender spectrum. Although many people signed up initially, Gene says that the club is “experiencing early growing pains.”
Club meetings were originally held on Fridays afterschool. However, the club rescheduled to meet on Thursdays in order to incorporate potential members who were dissuaded from joining because their love of Friday nights won out over staying in school a second past 3:20 for a club.
Even after moving the day, the club is sometimes quite small, although the number of attendees is inconsistent. Many members on S.T.A.G.E. (Students Taking Action for Gender Equity) wish that they could go, but because S.T.A.G.E. meets on the same day are unable to. Emmett Stone ’17, a member of the LGBTQ+ club says, “The fluctuations are something we are working on and plans are in the works for getting increased numbers and a more consistent group. The club can do great things with some work and time.”
Despite some difficulties getting the club started, Gene is optimistic. “We want the club to be as big as the school needs it to be,” he says. Gene states that they have two main objectives. First, the club aims to provide identity and community for people of diverse gender identities. Second, the club wishes to spread awareness about the movement as a whole.
Club activities include watching films, having discussions on both present-day and historical LGBTQ+ issues, and raising awareness and money for outside charities. The LGBTQ+ club hopes to involve BHSEC as a whole as well as make contact with outside LGBTQ+ groups. Recently, guest speakers from the Grand Street Center community outreach program came to speak with the club. They gave a presentation on Project Speak Out Loud. The meeting discussed the basics of gender identity outside of the binary model and touched on the freedom to identify (or not identify) however one wants.
When asked what the school should know about the LGBTQ+ club, Gene emphatically stressed that, although the club is a safe space to express sexual or gender identity and be a part of the LGBT+ community, “It is an interest club, not a support or counseling club. I’ve heard people say ‘I want to join, but I’m not gay.’” The LGBTQ+ club is open and eager for anyone and everyone, even if they don’t fall under one of the acronym letters. Its focus is about involving anyone that is interested in promoting the LGBTQ+ movement, even if they are as straight as the cleavage along a crystal lattice. Gene jokes, “We’re not going to give an exam to see if you’re gay enough to join.”
The club is still new and working things out, but they hope to have more activists and perhaps BHSEC alumni come in to speak to the club. They meet on the third floor on Thursdays after school if you’re interested!