Falcon Frustrations in BG LGBTQIA Community

Michele Mathis and Michele Mathis

There are many ways to be allies to marginalized communities.  

To boil down the word “ally” or “allyship” to people who don’t have more advanced knowledge, it means to lift up, be there for, and support a community that is not your own. 

While this definition may seem simple and easy to manage, in reality, it is more complex than any one community might think.  

To emulate my point further, I’d like to hone in on an issue closer to home for many of us: the allyship of college academia, more specifically, Bowling Green State University. 

The University does an alright job, I think, of presenting support to communities on campus who are under-funded and in the back drop of campus presentation. They make an effort to include diversity on their pamphlets and papers to pass out to prospective students, and they are eager to include diversity as a main focal point of their creeds and pillars of success.  

However, true, deep support goes further than the face of a university, it comes from funding.  

As a member of the LGBTQIA community on campus, I was hesitant to celebrate the presence of our mascots, Freddie and Frieda at this year’s Columbus Pride for a few reasons. 

Firstly, Freddie and Frieda, not to mention a portion of the upper administration, have never been present at “gay” events on campus. Why now, and frankly, why not ever on the University’s campus?  

Secondly, to maybe answer my posed question, it was only after Ohio State University’s mascot, Brutus the Buckeye, was pulled from the pride parade (then when other university’s pledged their presence, was put back in) that Freddie and Frieda were placed instead. 

While this might not have been the case, one could only assume this was a public relations stunt; a way of saying, “But at OUR university, we care,” a problematic gesture because if you cared already, you wouldn’t need to flash it around. 

 Thirdly, support does not come from a pride parade. It does not make me glow with pride to see my university’s mascot show up in a parade (that wasn’t even in my college town), it makes me frustrated. 

Where is all this support and allyship when the LGBTQIA programs on campus ask for funding? Where is it when the job search for the new LGBTQ Resource Center was delayed and postponed to one month before school begins? (Currently, this position is still empty, and the request for the search still pending.)  

This Band-Aid solution of putting mascots in during a pride parade is a term called “pink washing.”  

Pink washing can be defined as “a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting a product or an entity through an appeal to queer-friendliness, primarily by political or social activists.”  

Such political ploys like pink washing are half complete forms of allyship, and they are completely exhausting. Because it is allyship, although presented rather poorly, people are often quick to critique BGSU LGBTQ community for being stingy on the University’s decision.  

In my community’s defense, I hope to see the administration and the university as a whole make better decisions toward LGBTQ allyship in the future years to come.  

Never should a new queer student come onto campus with no direction from a Resource Center Director simply because it is an open position. Never should the University be on the fence about a policy like gender-neutral bathrooms. Never should a queer student feel like their harassment will not be seen as valid, and the resources scarce for guidance and help. Never should a queer community, let alone a marginalized community, fight for funding for uses of offices, resources, and voices.  

The University’s lack of funding and allyship for the BGSU LGBTQ community speaks volumes, and we are listening closely.


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