QS Reflections on Recent Suicides
The CSUN Queer Studies Program is saddened and enraged about the recent spate of queer teen suicides in the US. Public discourse about these deaths has focused on the brutality of the individuals who were the most proximate causes of the suicides (bullies, assaulters, roommates with hidden cameras, etc.). We believe it is vital that CSUN students, teachers, and community members who are moved by these deaths also reflect on and critique institutional and systemic homophobia, and on how such larger social forces might have played a role in the deaths of these and other teenagers.
While the individuals who bullied, beat, and otherwise harassed these teenagers should take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, it’s equally important that we not take the easy way out by blaming only these individuals, ignoring the homophobic culture that enables and promotes their actions and dispositions. This is a convenient way to avoid dealing with the fact that we live in a society that is structured and permeated by homophobic institutions, law, attitudes, and assumptions.
The possibility that a teenager killed himself because his sexual activity with another man was made public is as much an indictment of a society that marginalizes, demonizes, and punishes same-sex desire as it is of the individuals who posted the manifestation of that desire on the internet. We should not be content with punishing these individuals, but must continue to interrogate, protest, and overturn the murderous social systems and dispositions that create and sustain the assumptions and actions of these individuals.
The QS Program views Prop 8 as a discriminatory proposition that took away the constitutional right to marry from same sex couples in California. While we recognize and respect the diverse critiques of marriage as an institution, we see the passage of Prop 8 as motivated by homophobia and encourage its repeal. We also encourage protestors against Prop 8 not to target specific ethnic communities, but to recognize that large numbers of Californians of all ethnicities voted both for and against Prop 8.
Below are links to video shot by QS faculty and students from the wave of protests against Prop 8.
From Student Billimarie Robinson
From Prof. Ian Barnard
Past QS Events - 2010/2011
The 2nd Annual Queer Studies Spring Lecture Series event had a standing-room-only crowd at the Whitsett Room on March 30th, 2010. Author John Rechy, a pioneer of gay male literature was the featured speaker. Rechy provided a historical perspective on discrimination against the LGBT community, sharing his experiences of being out in LA as early as the 1950s. He also answered questions about his work, particularly about his novel, City of Night. He was introduced by Dr. Martin Pousson, who also moderated the Q & A session that followed.
Author John Rechy and Dr. Martin Pousson fielded questions during the Q&A session that followed Rechy's talk on March 30th, 2010.
Wong-Sayaman Equality Awards 2010
Two winners of the Wong-Sayaman Equality Award for 2010 were announced at the Queer Studies Spring Lecture Series on March 30, 2010.
Erik Mata (for his work on AIDS Awareness Day and LGBT activism in the Chicano/a community) and Kevin Zemlicka (for his work on the Positive Space - Ally project) received their awards from Ronora Sayaman (the donor of the award). Each award is accompanied by a $1000 scholarship.
(From L to R) QS Coordinator, Dr. Sheena Malhotra, Awardee Kevin Zemlicka, Donor Ronora Sayaman, and Awardee Erik Mata at the 2nd Annual Queer Studies Spring Lecture Series.