Elected January 29, the Queer Coalition’s 10-person Executive Board will help set the trajectory for this emergent organization during its first year as a faculty, staff, and graduate student affinity group at Illinois State University.
In addition to four officers—two co-presidents, a secretary, and a treasurer—the board also includes six members-at-large, four of whom represent specific employment classifications on campus. The Coalition grew out of the Triangle Association, the previous LGBTQIA+ faculty/staff affinity group on campus, and has also taken on many of the functions of the former LGBT/Queer Studies and Services Institute. Imagining, codifying, and electing a leadership body has been QC’s primary focus since its foundation in October 2020. In the intervening months, a team of volunteers met regularly to draft the Coalition Constitution and make it available for feedback from the membership. Elections were held in mid-January and the new board convened for the first time on February 4.
During this inaugural meeting, board members underscored their commitment to “foreground[ing] the fact that all forms of oppression are interconnected and by so doing support and work toward racial justice,” as charged by the Constitution. Co-presidents Dr. Byron Craig and Dr. Gavin Weiser both emphasize the necessity of hitting the ground running when it comes to issues of intersectional diversity in and around the queer community.
“I am extremely excited to work towards initiatives that will bring more inclusion and highlight the need for understanding the significance of difference, especially in Queer spaces, so that our voices can create collective change in a divisive public culture for students, staff, faculty, and the larger community,” Craig said.
In hir candidate statement, Dr. Weiser likewise expressed hir intention to “collaborate with the other affinity groups on campus (AsiaConnect, Association of Black Academic Employees (ABAE), and Organization of Latino/a Employees (OLE) to create a robust network to better support historically targeted groups and individuals.”
ISU faculty, staff, and graduate students, as well as retirees and community members, are all invited to become members of the Queer Coalition by filling out this form. Membership comes with no strings attached, and members can opt-in to being added to the QC listserv and/or Team in order to stay up-to-date on all that’s queer at ISU. The Coalition is also keeping the community informed through its Twitter account and Facebook page, both of which now sports a new logo courtesy of member-at-large Brienne Reid and secretary Karmen Beecroft. “The logo represents the Coalition’s desire to keep the concerns of the often-marginalized identities at the end of the LGBTQIA+ acronym front and center in our activism,” explains Beecroft, “and to recognize the fact that gender, sexual, and a/romantic identities are intrinsically intertwined.”
QC queries constituents
Queer Coalition members recently received invitations through the group listserv to fill out a survey gauging their interest in future programming and committee service. The Board urges all members to take this opportunity to make their wishes known. Committees under consideration run the gamut from Coalition Building to Research and Scholarship, while potential social events include Zoom Bingo, queer crafting workshops, or even a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Fundraising is also on everybody’s minds as local landmarks like The Bistro and emergency resources such as the LGBTQ Student Support Fund have been hard hit by the pandemic. Ultimately, say the co-presidents, it’s up to the membership to tell us where they want to go from here.