As president and vice-president of G@MIT (GLBT at MIT, a student group at MIT devoted to creating a queer-positive environment), we thought it would be important for us to contextualize and point out a few concerns to Michael Veldman’s ’14 opinion piece published on October 19.
We agree with James M. Long’s criticism of Veldman’s opinion (published October 22), and would like to articulate a few additional concerns from the perspective of the LGBT community at MIT.
We take issue with the fact that Veldman’s article speaks for a number of members of the LGBT community in a way that isn’t necessarily true. Those who make “It Gets Better” videos are often trying to answer a simple question posed by the campaign — if you could go back to give your teenage self a message, what would it be?
For some, this is a stoic and harsh message about the depression and isolation felt by many LGBT youth. For others, it’s an uplifting message, saying that while it may be impossible to imagine a happy life when you are alone and being harassed, you have the possibility of being happy once you leave the toxic and often homophobic middle and high school environment. Who are we to discredit these individuals’ message because it does not fit into our conceptions of what a depressed person does or does not want to hear? Those who are making the “It Gets Better” video were there, and it devalues their experiences and their ability to send out a powerful message to criticize it as “hollow...and cruel” because it is not the message that we ourselves would give.
We further criticize The Tech for choosing to print an overly negative and bordering on nihilistic opinion piece instead of an article that had the power to make a positive impact. The week before the 19th’s issue of The Tech was Coming Out Week, during which LGBT at MIT and G@MIT put on eight events over the course of the week. These had a positive impact and a large turnout, and to not cover these events with a full article, despite being aware of their occurrence, is to ignore an important aspect of MIT’s community. We believe that the message of tolerance at MIT that coverage of Coming Out Week would have presented would have been a much better use of space than Veldman’s criticism.
We are concerned that the most coverage the LGBT community has gotten in an extended period of time was about a campaign that was not directly germane to the LGBT community at MIT. The last broad-scale coverage that the LGBT community received, which we determined from searching through The Tech’s archives, reported on homophobic threats the Sloan LGBT student group received through e-mails in 2008. To truly reflect the MIT community as a whole, The Tech’s coverage should also focus on the positive measures and successes of the LGBT community, such as the recent rise in attendance at LGBT events, the thriving first-year LGBT student group and Coming Out Week.
Judith “Cal” Vasquez ’12 and Joubert X. Glover ’11 are Vice-President and President of G@MIT, respectively. The videos referenced in this column can be found on the G@MIT webpage at http://web.mit.edu/gamit/www/. If you would like to participate in MIT’s ‘It Gets Better’ video, e-mail email@example.com.