Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ian Thomas Palmquist, June 27, 2001. Interview K-0848. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Unique situation for organizations for bisexual, lesbian, gay, and transgender people

Palmquist describes what he perceived as the unique situation for organizations for bisexual, lesbian, gay, and transgender people. Palmquist was actively involved in B-GLAD (later QNC) while a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. According to Palmquist, these kinds of organizations experienced pressure from people who expected the organizations to provide some sort of social outlet.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ian Thomas Palmquist, June 27, 2001. Interview K-0848. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So, there has often been this schism in CGA, CGLA, B-GLAD, QNC, where you have this push to be social and this push to be political and what do you think of that?
IAN THOMAS PALMQUIST:
I think that is the great curse of queer student organizing.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Why do you think that there is that schism? Why don't you see such a clear schism in African American organizations for instance?
IAN THOMAS PALMQUIST:
Yeah, I think that a lot of it is that many African American organizations or Latino organizationsߞwellߞthose communities already have some sort of social outlets, you know, they have resturants, family units for that matter. So there is already that kind of built in social outlets within those communities. So organized groups in those communities are put in to organize some sort of political end or provide some sort of service. With queer students, most places don't have that kind of community, or at least no kind of community outside of the bars. So, I think that there is a drive for gay student groups to have some kind of social outlet that wasn't focussed on drinking and hooking up. It was really frustrating because I think that both the social and political aspects are incredibly worthwhile and one of the big challenges for me, the whole time I was there was trying to figure out how on earth can I balance this? What really made it difficult was that it seemed like the body of people who were willing to be involved a little bit and kind of a little bit wanted B-GLAD to be social. The people that were actually willing to do some work and organize something were interested in the political stuff rather than planning a party or a picnic or whatever. So, there was this sort of weird balance between what the leadership and the people actually working on stuff wanted to do didn't necessarily mesh with what the masses wanted.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
The inactive masses.
IAN THOMAS PALMQUIST:
But none of the masses were going to run for anything.