We remembered how strong the second-wave feminist pressure from certain other students had been when we went to the university. K.C. put it as "I am woman, hear me roar." Neither of us were that into roaring, but we participated to some extent, she more than I did in some ways, I think. She said she was political in her way now, but wasn't the type of person to put rainbows on everything. I wear rainbow accessories on what I consider appropriate occasions. For me, it's making sure I'm not invisible.
There seems to be far less pressure now to conform one way or the other in the group. Out of the organization members I see fairly regularly, there seem to be a fair number of bisexual women, and some people who are moderately genderqueer, and as far as I can tell they're just let to be themselves. Back when I went there, the guys who thought of themselves as more straight-acting didn't want to be seen in public at school with guys who acted more effeminate. The students assure me that that's very different now.
The gay men who are officers in the organization now seem to all have taken women's studies classes, which I don't think would have even been considered by most of the guys back when. I didn't take any women's studies classes when I went there, but that wasn't my focus. I knew the information -- I just chose to like individual men anyway, for which I received much anger and hisses of "heterosexual privilege." I'm just as queer when I'm dating a man, and I'm always ambivalent about the heterosexual privilege people assume for me. It's not right that I get it, but it's not something I want to get into with everybody who sees me on the street. It's problematic for me, but it's one of those things I work out my own way, as the situations come up.
K.C. said that a lot of the activism in her time had centered around HIV/AIDS. I remember some of that, like going to see the Names Quilt in Washington, D.C. The mentor of the group, J.H., tells me that parts of the Quilt have come to [local university], too. S. was very affected by seeing Cleve Jones at the March on Washington for Equality this past year. S. says that Cleve Jones is one of his heroes. K.C. mentioned some events which had the students in more direct activist roles on that issue. We got a fair amount of education on staying safe, and most of the guys I hung out with seemed to take it pretty seriously. They were part of the first generation of gay men who had some chance of getting the information about HIV/AIDS before they became sexually active. We heard that there were some students who were HIV+ then, in the early- to mid-nineties. I didn't have any reason to doubt it, though I figured it was rumor-spreading unless I heard it from the person in question. I've since had some direct confirmation.
It was great to hear from K.C. for a number of reasons. She was more fully involved in certain types of activism than I was, and had some very interesting perspectives. There was a lot we agreed with each other on about what went on back then. K.C. is really articulate, so that made for a great interview. It was really good for me to talk to a lesbian who'd been there, but wasn't hostile towards bisexual women. H. and I were glad to get an alumna's perspective, and that was a good one.