The Black Students Network (BSN) and Queer McGill (QM) co-hosted their first joint event, “Is it Dark in the Closet?” last Wednesday evening.
Featured speaker Rinaldo Walcott, a Sociology and Equity Studies professor from the University of Toronto, spoke about the need for “anti-racist queer politics” to address black queer history. He asked the fifty-person audience to consider black queer people as “a part of a much longer history of black disenfranchisement and marginalization.”
Rojarra Armbrister, a BSN executive member, explained the idea behind the event’s focus on homosexuality within the black community.
“There is a lot of homophobia within the black community itself, and people want answers. We don’t know where it stems from,” Armbrister said.
She noted that homophobia is present in “this generation especially,” and explained why she felt last night’s event could contribute to finding answers.
“It’s more [about] educating ourselves and educating those around us about where this comes from and what we can do to fix it,” Armbrister added.
About fifty people attended the event. Gisele Ishema-Karekezi, a McGill student originally from Rwanda, also noted the uniqueness of the event.
“This is the first time they brought up the gay issues in the black community, so I was very excited,” said Ishema-Karekezi. “It’s not really talked about in the African community.”
According to Ryan Thom, a QM co-administrator, a long discussion between BSN and QM was devoted to, “How the space will be shaped so that it [would] be a place that both racialized black students could imagine themselves at and a place where queer students who aren’t necessarily black could also imagine themselves having a place at.”
According to Thom the discussion was “delicate but really productive.”
“We don’t always have the experience or perspective to come at [issues of race], and that’s something that all the progressive organizations, including Queer McGill, work toward,” Thom said. “That’s why we have these collaborations, that’s why we work together – to draw in a different audience.”
BSN will be collaborating with QPIRG for an event this week, and will be running several events in honour of Black History Month.
“I do anticipate that you will be seeing a lot more of these events.” Armbrister said regarding the club’s future plans.