Interview with Queer Affinity Group and GSA Co-heads

Henry Patton '21

The following is an edited transcript of an interview with Matthew Gainsboro, a Q2 (Queer and Questioning) and GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) co-head and Keagan Tan, a Q2 and QPOC (Queer People of Color) co-head.


  1. What made you want to be involved with GSA/Q^2 in the first place?


Matthew Gainsboro: I guess for me it was the realization that even in our very liberal community, there are people that really have a hard time accepting their identity. Whether it be their family, their friends, or maybe even themselves, accepting one’s identity can be the hardest thing for someone who is having such feelings. I happened to have a very easy time, as once I was at CA, I had a very supportive group of people providing me love, and parents who, relatively speaking, were loving and accepting of me. Acknowledging that you love and support someone who is going through a harder time than I had can go a long way, no matter your gender or sexual identity.


Keagan Tan: I wanted to be involved with Q2 because I felt that my interest and confidence in my sexuality had come to the point where I was could to be more outspoken and supportive of others. I had gone through a great deal of anxiety and discomfort about being queer, mostly because it’s such a taboo topic in Southeast Asia. CA’s relative frankness allowed me more comfort and space to find myself, and I wanted to join Q2 and QPOC in the hopes that I could help other students find themselves in this struggle.


  1. What is the mandate of the two clubs? What responsibilities do they have to queer people at CA?


MG: GSA is a discussion based social justice group that talks about queer issues in our community and what we can do to change them. This club is open to people of any sexuality and gender.

    Q2 is an affinity group open to any genders but only open to those who identify as queer. This club’s purpose is to provide a safe space for those who identify as queer and can discuss issues that arise from identifying as such inside and out of the CA community.


  1. What is your agenda for this year in terms of themes and topics you’ll be discussing in meetings?


KT: We want to focus on tackling current events in order to be relevant with the people attending GSA/Q^2/QPOC rather than a list of broad topics determined at the start of the school year.


  1. What are your goals for this year in both clubs?


MG: Like I said earlier, I would like to encourage a more homey and comfortable feel [in Q2], particularly with underclassmen. It would have been so nice as a puny little frosh to have an older, cooler, queer kid checking in on me. I hope I can provide that, minus the cool part.

    I want us to have an impact [in GSA], and for our conversations to encourage change, both socially and administratively. I would also love more students of various backgrounds attend to make sure their voices are heard.


KT: I am not as involved in GSA but for Q2 I’m hoping to have more interaction and open communication with QPOC. I think something absent last year was collaboration between the two, and I hope that changes this year. I also want to find a more private and secure space for Q2 meetings, because gender and sexuality are such deeply personal and vulnerable aspects of identity that it would be counterproductive to give students anything less than absolute privacy. Finally, I want there to be a balance between the more serious in-depth discussions and having fun. Queerness is complex and you need to have fun celebrating this love as much as you need to be aware of the greater intricacies and issues in this world.


  1. What can the CA administration do to improve the experiences of queer students at CA?


KT: I keep returning to the word privacy, not because queer people at CA should remain hidden forever, but before someone finds the certainty and confidence with their sexuality the best thing to make them feel safe is to give them a space where they won’t feel judged. The administration can help by providing a space on campus that accomplishes this.


  1. What can students do to improve the lives of queer people at CA?


MG: Okay, work with me: you are someone who is not queer. You could be any skin color, of any background, of any gender, but you are straight. You say something that you would not say to the face of a queer student. I want that student to consider this: one of the people you said that thing to might not be straight. For a lot of people, sexuality is something that is fluid, and changes constantly based on circumstances and feelings. The more hurtful things are said, the less encouraged people will feel to entertain the idea of not following the straight normality, and the more encouraged they will feel to box themself in. Plus, who are you honestly impressing by saying hurtful things towards a minority?

    Don’t spread hate about the LGBTQ+ community. There is not a single positive thing that can come from it.

KT: For students that are queer and questioning, I would urge that, supporting one another and respecting people’s different backgrounds and levels of understanding and comfort with their queerness is important. Everyone invited to these meetings has varying levels of confidence and knowledge about queer matters, and it is not up to any individual to pass judgement of each other’s comfort and understanding. For those who are student allies, I encourage attending GSA meetings and being understanding by listening and respecting the boundaries of queer people at CA. Don’t out people.