Poster-ers Speak Out

This opinions piece was written by “The Anonymous (and fabulously queer) Posters.” If you have comments or questions for the authors of this piece, please contact the Gazette and we will forward them.

We would like to address the recent parodying of queer language in the Campus Republicans posters and our response to a legitimate frustration with this flippant appropriation.

In advertising for an upcoming meeting the Campus Republicans used the slogan “It’s OK to Come Out.” In response to these fliers, anonymous posters were placed alongside a row of Republican fliers in the Shane Student Lounge. Although the anonymous posters did cover two Republican posters, the Republican posters occupied a significant portion of the flier boards with multiple and repeatedly identical fliers. The next day, these anonymous posters were removed and in their position were placed even more Republic fliers reading: if you believe in freedom of speech, do not deface or remove our fliers. This misconstrues our original exercise of public speech; we did not remove or deface any fliers.

While we did not mean to challenge the specific personalities associated with the Campus Republicans, our intention was to acknowledge the irony of their actions given the institution for which they speak. For queer people, coming out is an experience that never ends; in nearly every new encounter or social situation, the feeling of difference and marginality associated with coming out repeats itself. Coming out, in this way, is meant to signify a rejection of the normalizing silence that is projected by a heterosexist world-view. To witness this tradition reduced to an advertisement for the Republic party is personally affronting and disregards the lived reality of queer people. While Republicans might understand an aspect of coming out at Swarthmore, the appropriation of that term by an institution that instigates the social and juridical marginalization of queer minorities is unacceptable.

Our original posters were meant to challenge their statement in this manner. In response to the removal of our original posters, we have hung new fliers in the Shane Student Lounge and throughout other public campus spaces. Like the original fliers, our language is non-confrontational and direct; it reads as follows:

Campus Republicans have removed signs questioning their usage of the term “coming out.” We believe it was an act of silencing and homophobia, directly violating standards of public speech on campus.

The signs removed were in response to a blatant misappropriation of what is meant to be an act of pride in self and in a community as expressed through the term “coming out.”

The parodying of queer language to create a catchy slogan for an overtly homophobic institution is hurtful. Regardless of the positions of individual Campus Republicans, the Republican agenda clearly promotes and enforces homophobic policy.

Though we don’t know if they’ll be there tomorrow, we hope that Campus Republics and the student body alike can stop to consider the implications of their rhetoric. To misappropriate other cultures’ language and traditions, irrespective of their historical and political context, is irresponsible, damaging, and, at base, a covert form of cultural violence.

Signed,
The Anonymous (and fabulously queer) Posters


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0 comments

  1. 0
    Lauren Stokes ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    OK, I’ll post the comment I posted on the other article here: I was under the impression that “coming out” had now been re-normalized as a catch all term for any process of making an identity public. You hear things like “coming out as a virgin,” as a rape survivor, as an alcoholic, as a Madonna fan, frequently, and this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone express offense at such a usage.

    Are those usages also offensive to the poster-ers sensibilities and an example of “misappropriat[ing] other cultures’ language and traditions” or is it just the Republican usage that’s offensive?

  2. 0
    Lucas Sanders says:

    from anonymous: “No, they are not accusing the College Republicans of being homophobic, but the REPUBLICAN PARTY IN GENERAL enforces and endorses heterosexist policies that further marginalize a queer identity. If you read closely, you would see that the posters are not attacking the people at Swarthmore who happen to be in the College Republicans, but rather the LARGER INSTITUTION.”

    Actually, I don’t think Amelia has missed the message of this piece any more than you have. If you will read closely, you will notice that this guest opinion says absolutely nothing about whether the College Republicans as an organization is homophobic. It explicitly refrains from saying that individual members of the College Republicans are homophobic. It says that the national party is homophobic. From there, we’re left to draw our own conclusions.

    Let me point to some concrete examples of the ambiguity in this column’s wording. On the one hand, the suggestion that the posters are advertising the Republican Party draws a direct equivalence between the two organizations. On the other hand, the conclusion refers to the College Republicans in the plural, which suggests that the authors are using the term to refer to individual Swatties instead of a broader organization.

    For one last example, let’s take a look at one of the main sentences in this part of the authors’ argument: “While we did not mean to challenge the specific personalities associated with the Campus Republicans, our intention was to acknowledge the irony of their actions given the institution for which they speak.” In this sentence, the word “institution” could be an offhand reference to the national party, or it could refer the Campus Republicans — which is, of course, the institution mentioned earlier in that same sentence.

    In the end, anonymous, I hope and suspect that you are reading the column as the authors intended. But I hope you can acknowledge that Amelia is also presenting a valid interpretation of the column that has been published. Perhaps a clarification from the authors is in order?

  3. 0
    Lucas Sanders says:

    There’s a surprising lack of interest in responding to this guest opinion, given the lengthy comment threads on all the other articles relating to this controversy. In particular, the lack of discussion here contrasts strongly with the vibrant discussion in response to Mr. Shaffer’s opinion piece.

    I’m not sure why people are avoiding the Anonymous Posters’ argument and, it must be acknowledged, the several prompts for wider discussion posted above. But it’s clear that we (as a community) are avoiding all substantive discussion of their opinion.

    In the discussion of Mr. Shaffer’s opinion, Seth Green observed that the commenters were mostly avoiding the most substantive points of Mr. Shaffer’s argument. In practice, there’s been more serious discussion there of the poster dialogue than the substantive points made about Mr. Shaffer’s experience as a Republican on this campus.

    I find it very interesting that we (as a community) are choosing to discuss queer identity issues almost to the exclusion of Republican identity issues, yet are simultaneously neglecting the most high-profile argument about the queer identity issues at stake. Why? (Discuss!)

  4. 0
    anonymous says:

    In response to Amelia’s comment:

    No, they are not accusing the College Republicans of being homophobic, but the REPUBLICAN PARTY IN GENERAL enforces and endorses heterosexist policies that further marginalize a queer identity. If you read closely, you would see that the posters are not attacking the people at Swarthmore who happen to be in the College Republicans, but rather the LARGER INSTITUTION.

  5. 0
    Amelia Sizemore says:

    Wait, a group that hates being categorized, marginalized, and generalized is making a sweeping generalization about another group? Classifying the College Republicans as “an overtly homophobic institution”–did I miss something in the irony here?

  6. 0
    Lucas Sanders says:

    I would be greatly indebted if the Campus Republicans could post the precise text of their posters. Likewise, I’d appreciate if if the Anonymous (and fabulously queer) Posters could have the Gazette post the precise text of their earlier poster. Without having read the full text of most of these posters, it is extremely difficult to say anything intelligent about the situation.

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