Affinity on a Smaller Scale

I'm going to try to write entire entries in one sitting, so they don't loose coherence after the fourth paragraph. Wish me luck.

With WWOTB out of my court for a week or more, I'm starting to think of other "independent" (of school work) projects that I can do. Everyone I've talked to about WWOTB has been really excited and energetic about it, which I think, is pretty darn cool. A year ago I might have said, "now I just hope people follow through," but after so many years of working for Free-ePress, CollectiveArts, and even to a more limited extent TealArt, I think I've learned a few things about collaborative projects and how to organize myself to inspire (if that's the right word, perhaps encourage) the response that I seek.

But I was thinking, of people I should ask here at Beloit, to contribute to this project. I sent the initial email out to one guy, and there are more than that, but I realized that there isn't really any group or way for the gay men on this campus to connect and or relate with/to each other. The Alliance (GSA) type organization is mostly female. This is great, really, but it also doesn't serve me terribly well (not that I'm going to stop going, I'm just saying). I think this feeling is similar to the one than Iris felt when she decided to write her book, rather than just rely on the original Ophelia Speaks collection.

Now of course the logical conclusion to draw from this is that I need to start some sort of affinity group for gay men on this campus. Now I really don't want to go through student activities cause that's a pain in the ass, using The Alliance is probably a good idea, but I think that carries a lot of bad connotations on campus, and funding something myself isn't really an option. Ok so having said that, my current thought it to have some sort of brunch group, but I kind of feel if I did anything to formal, all I'd get is a bunch of girls. Excluding people isn't a good idea, but at the same time, if you include straight guys and girls of any persuasion, then you don't really have an affinity group now do you?

I think there are at least two major forces pulling on feminist and/or social justice movements. The first is clearly forming alliances between affected (or not affected) groups, under the idea that oppression is shared and that many hands make light work. Then there's the idea that the affected group (women, lesbians, male homosexuals, people of color, people from the non-western world, immigrants, emigrants, transgender people, transsexual people, teenagers, teenage girls, workers, queer people, etc.) need to work together to empower themselves and build a nurturing community. Affinity builds the foundation for coalition work, and both are dependent on each other.

So this brings up another interesting theoretical concept for me. The struggle for change in order to be productive and successful needs to incorporate movement in at least two disparate aspects. These aspects are often contradictory, and by focusing on one the activist/theorist tends to forget the other one, which makes movements hard to manage. History is rife with examples of this.

In the example above, they are affinity and coalition. At Anytown, they are conscious and subconscious manifestations of oppression. In feminism/women's studies programs, they are activism and theory. These elements need to move together, and that's a huge problem not easily overcome.

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