Monday, February 23, 2015

Making of Role Models for a Minority Group

Making of Role Models for a Minority Group

An Irresponsible Way to Market a Cause

By: Naimul Khan

Bruce Jenner, famous track Olympian, has recently made the news. Tracking a lot of media attention, it is rumored that he is transitioning to become   a woman. Though the news remains speculation, with no official word coming from Jenner himself, his daughter Kylie Jenner recently came out in support of her father. All this mixed in with news that Jenner will be starring in a reality TV show on E! about his transition, leads us to believe that the tabloid speculations are true. Nonetheless, whether Jenner is transgender remains insignificant when compared to the profound influence it will have on American popular culture. Hopefully, it can change American public opinion. 
Throughout the last several years, we have seen how popular culture can influence popular opinion. Same-sex marriage, for example, as a result of popular culture and media attention, has become legal in most of the United States, so much so, it would be safe to say that we have gay rights here in the United States. However, this privilege (which should be a natural right) comes on the backs of the millions who voted in favor and worked in order to push the equality agenda. Some of these individuals made their intentions explicitly clear, rallying for public support. Others, on the contrary, were pushed to move the cause. The idea that these individuals were “pushed” to fight for gay rights, however, does not mean they were forced to do so by some third party, but naturally took on the responsibility by coming out. 

Coming out, in general, is probably one of the most powerful tools any minority community has in helping gain equal rights. Whether gay, or Black, or Muslim; by saying “this is who I am”, a powerful effect is made. First off, you take away any sense of shame these groups might have riddling its image. Gays coming out as gay really says, “I am okay with this and I am not ashamed”, heck, that’s why we call it pride. Which brings us to the second impact of coming out, we celebrate who we are. In a way, our celebration in the form of Gay Pride, or Latin Pride, or any other kind of pride, exclaims that as a minority group, we are not different as humans and we share diversity amongst us. These effects of celebrating and coming out, therefore, makes every individual who comes out an advocate. She becomes a voice of exposure. She normalizes who she is. She makes her differences seem minute. 

Still, despite the minuteness, there is one group of people who get an overbearing amount of responsibility when they come out. Celebrities, semi-celebrities, or really anyone with any following, wear the heavy burden of having to represent a whole class of minorities. Whether it is Bruce Jenner with the trans* community, or Michael Sam with the athletic gay community; these individuals become the face of their minority group. These individuals, as a result, must give up some of their rights, like their right to privacy. Though some will argue that by coming out publicly, these celebrities bring the pressure on to themselves; would it be possible to have it any other way? Would it be possible for Bruce Jenner to one day appear as Belinda Jenner without media attention? Could Michael Sam have hidden the existence of his boyfriend his entire NFL career and even thereafter before he became entangled in a gay-scandal? Hiding the sexuality is not possible, but the pressure and scrutiny in being a role model is no easy solution. This is a lose-lose situation. 

However, the scrutiny is not limited to just celebrities. Even down to the community level where an individual comes out to family, or friends, or her entire town, pressure is put on her to represent her community, while existing community stereotypes are imposed onto her. The idea that HIV and AIDS, for example, is a gay disease promotes a skewed image of what the community is and those that are a part of it. This issue, like many, is not solely limited to the LGBTQIA community. Black individuals must live with stereotypes imposed onto them through the media and education systems throughout the nation. As a result of institutionalized racism, British imperialism, and the acts of a few individuals; before even meeting a black man, others who are less acquainted with the community, will make judgements on her character. In this country, it can even get you killed. 

The strokes of a few broken brushes, also, can taint the whole image of a community. For example, the fundamental and uneducated association between homosexuality and pedophilia is one that still exists worldwide. Though there remains no causation between the two very distinct groups, this inaccurate idea has seeped into the grains of historical American thought and even lives engrained in the minds of some today. So when a person, celebrity or not, comes out, she runs risk of presenting her group inaccurately to those outside her group. Many may take her actions and words as emblematic of the entire group. Obviously, this is a problem.

So what is the solution to this situation? Is the problem with the idea of “coming out” itself? No, the issue is not with coming out. One way or another, others will have to know if individuals are LGBTQIA-identifying. Non-exposure is worse than exposure. What needs to be fixed is mainstream reaction to issues like sexuality and gender fluidity. When rumors of Bruce Jenner being transgender arose, many news tabloids fed it to the public masked as scandalous gossip. This has profound negative implications, in that it insinuates that being trans* is scandalous and something to be made fun of. The issue at hand is ignored for entertainment purposes.

What needs to change is how the conversation over gender, sexuality, race, and topics like these are discussed. No, it will not take a day, month, or year to correct; but like the process of evolution, the system needs to evolve into one where coming out is not a big deal and sexuality, race, or the color of one’s eyes, are not character defining. The only way to get this change across is not just by changing how tabloids report, but also how we educate the youth in schools, and how we normalize communities through the media. 

So as Bruce Jenner gives up his private life by hosting this reality TV show about his transition, I tip my hat to him, because in the end of the day, no matter how unimagined, his show will help the cause and make the “T” in “LGBT”  a non-issue. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hey Bearcats! TGIF!!!! We hope you all enjoyed this past chilly week.

To recap, if you haven't done so already, you can view your photo from our "What is Love?" Photo Campaign on our GLASS Facebook page, under the designated photo album. You can also view the VIDEO made by esteemed GLASS President Joshua J Altamirano, compiled of all of the photos here. What a beautiful success!

On Tuesday, T-Time returned. We enjoyed tea, coffee, and yummy cookies and brownies and sat in the cozy Resource Room (VC 3-241) together. Our discussion topic, "What is Gender?" proved to have many levels. The conversation flowed organically from the treatment of the Trans* community in foreign countries, to the importance of asking for someone's preferred gender pronouns upon meeting them, and then to how people experiences both sides of the typical gender binary. It was great to listen to each other and learn something new. We are already looking forward to our next T-Time!

We ask, "What's in a name?" No, we are not talking about that Capulet girl.

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Society is changing its name! Inclusivity of people of all gender identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations is our main priority and aim, especially at a famously
 diverse school like Baruch College.

Beyond that, GLASS's aim is to include the entire Baruch community to help us in the search of our new name! Please take two minutes out of your day to enter your idea into the attached Google Form. Let's get the conversation flowing. (Break the internet.)

We really appreciate it!

This week, we have a packed day on Thursday, Feb 26! During Club Hours, we are co-sponsoring the Vietnamese Student Association's event general meeting, #TBT, hosted by GLASS Events Coordinator Pong Muangchan! We'll be enjoying Vietnamese food and snacks that will throw you back! Cha cha slide down to VC 5-160.

Thursday evening, we are hosting our second Open Mic Night of the year!! Enjoy storytelling, poetry reading, and of course, live music! See you at 6 to 9PM in Room VC 2-125.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Week of Feb 9

Good morning Baruch students,

GLASS would like to thank all of our returning members and the handful of new ones that came to our first General Meeting of the Spring semester last Thursday. It was fun playing a couple of ice breaker games with y'all and chatting about what's coming up. We are very excited for the events we will host and co-sponsor!

Also, we would like to thank all the students and teachers who participated in our photo campaign "What is Love?" yesterday. We enjoyed learning about what people say when they think of love and that people were proud to stand by their answers and pose for a photo! If you'd like to see your photos, they will be up on our Facebook soon, and later on we will compile the photos into a video which will play on some of the televisions in the Vertical Campus!

What's up next you ask? T-Time! Next Tuesday, Feb 17 at 12:30-2:30PM, we are hosting another T-Time in VC 3-241, aka the LGBTQIA Resource Center. T-Time is an opportunity to have an open discussion in a safe space, while enjoying tea, coffee, and desserts! Next week's topic is "What is Gender?" and you can look over the details on our Facebook.

Enjoy your Thursday and Monday off, and have a happy and safe Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Welcome Week

Hey Bearcats and friends!!

It's Welcome Week here at Baruch to kick off the Spring semester. We hope you all enjoyed your breaks and that Blizzard Juno hasn't inconvenienced you and your families too much.

We had an amazingly successful Fall semester and GLASS is so excited to deliver some great events right away.

Tomorrow, Thursday January 28th, GLASS is co-sponsoring with TSO, Baruch's Transfer Student Organization, who is hosting their Welcoming Party during Club Hours in the Gym. They will be featuring over 30 of Baruch's clubs and refreshments will be served. This is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about club life. Look for our table! Follow the rainbow!!

Also tomorrow, Thursday January 28th, Baruch's Undergraduate Student Government is hosting their party Casino Royale from 6 to 9PM in the Multi-Purpose Room (VC 1-107). Test your luck at the Roulette and Black Jack tables and capture the moment in a photo booth!

Stay tuned for GLASS's events in the coming semester.

Our first General Meeting will be held next Thursday, February 5th, in VC 4-190!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

iLuminate Review

Hey Bearcats!

I hope you are all enjoying your weeks thus far, and we here at GLASS have a suggestion for how you could de-stress and have fun this weekend before Finals Week begins!

This past Friday, upon the recommendation of fellow active GLASS member Haven Kaplan, Joshua Altamirano (GLASS President), Eden Goring (GLASS Treasurer), Zaris Mota (GLASS member) and I (GLASS Co-Creative Director) attended the off-Broadway show iLuminate.

iLuminate performs unique dance shows in New York New World theaters and has appeared in various talk shows, award shows, and concerts. According to the group,"iLuminate isn’t just a dance show. We’re a company based on the fusion of technology and dance. We aim to create a visual display unlike anything you’ve ever seen, using dancers in electrified glow-in-the-dark suits to perform choreographed dances and illusions on a darkened stage. It’s an experience that’s completely unique to our brand and incomparable to any other dance show." Each show is an hour long and is a treat and experience for all ages. 

iLuminate impressively mixes dance with stunning neon visuals to explore a profound meaning between expression, love, and power. In an abstract and contemporary manner, the show aims to enlighten the audience on human individualism through the journey of the Artist—the show’s protagonist.  

The Artist himself embodies the idea of holding true to self-expression and individualism. Ostracized for his inability to dance, in a world where everyone dances like Mikhail Baryshnikov, he isolates himself into his own world created by the magic of his paintbrush. The paintbrush, as a matter of fact, remains pivotal to the idea of individualism—for it symbolizes power. This capability creates the dynamic between innocence and corruption. Our ballet-dancing Artist represents innocence in character, while the street-dancing antagonist represents human corruption. These attributes are carried through in the fight for the love interest of both characters. The interest is pulled to the purity of the Artist, but moved by the nature of the antagonist.

This pull towards purity develops the idea of flow versus nature. Where the protagonist builds a world for him to feel accepted in the flow of the environment around him, the antagonist forces his individualism, love, and his environment to work for him—an act that was only met with failure. The feud between the characters and these themes develop into more intricate meanings, again exploring personality, expression, and power. 

This aim was undeniably reached. As the show built a connection with the audience, everyone watched captivated. From actors jumping out of the audience, dancing through aisles, to neon serpents’ lunging out into the crowd, all in an environment that not only allowed, but also encouraged, applause—even though there was no dialogue the level of interaction was remarkable. We easily found ourselves immersed in the story, following the interesting yet ingenuous plot. All the energy and charisma, served to engage instead of distract, an admirable quality in an off-Broadway feature.  The lights, the music, the entire production was unique to itself, something that transcended the environment leaking into theme of the show itself. This show, even through its environment, values the importance of self-expression. 

iLuminate’s classic plot of power, corruption, identity and acceptance makes it a universal show; that, paired with the group's commitment to interaction, attracts an unprecedentedly diverse audience.  The spectators encompassed families,couples, and friends of of all ages, and we would recommend everyone check it out.  

So bearcats, don't miss your chance to experience the fun and grab your tickets before the lights go out on January 18th!!