[A]s a board, the Brown University Queer Alliance, a student-run group serving LGBTQ+ students on campus, has decided to cancel the annual Sex Power God (SPG) party for the 2014 fall semester. Our decision takes into account the organizational objectives of the Queer Alliance, the original aims of the party, and ultimately the safety of students on campus. A future board may choose to reinstate the party based on their own judgment. Currently, no other student group may use the name or planning strategies to plan an alternative to SPG.
The intended goals of Sex Power God were to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ students to express their sexuality in an affirming and positive environment. SPG was meant to be a celebration of the diversity of sexualities and bodies at Brown. It was meant to affirm queer/LGBTQ+ students who feel excluded or shamed by hetero-patriarchal norms by creating a space in honor of them. SPG was intended to be a glitter filled rejection of limiting narratives that claim that there is a “right” or “acceptable” way to perform sexuality. At its core, SPG was intended to:
- To be a celebration of sex positivity for queer people
- To be a celebration of body positivity
- To be a safe space free of assault and unwanted contact
- To be a space open to all with a queer focus
- To ethically raise funds for the continuation and promotion of a healthy community for queer students at Brown
Unfortunately, over the past 10 years the event of SPG has continuously deviated from its goals of safe sexual expression. After a representative of Bill O’Reilly snuck in and broadcasted footage of SPG, more safety and privacy precautions were taken by organizers. Through online publications and BDH articles, students often voiced homophobic concerns about continuing to host SPG. Students also defended the need for a positive queer space and created guides for how to navigate SPG.
In short, much valuable work has been done to place the SPG event in line with its original intent. However, as President of the Queer Alliance and in my time at Brown, it is clear that SPG no longer serves its intended purpose. The party has been described in a number of colorful ways, and at this point SPG embodies part or all of these descriptions:
- A school-sponsored orgy
- A naked party that has become a school-sponsored orgy
- A space for “expression of marginalized sexual identities”
- A sex party
- A space fostering disregard for active, enthusiastic consent
- A space where students are non-verbally encouraged to test their limits of substance abuse or drink to the point of self-harm
These descriptions indicate clearly that there is notable confusion and debate around the aim and results of Sex Power God amongst Brown students. This confusion comes from the problematic disconnect of SPG’s intentions and the actual dynamics of the space. The party has veered significantly from its foundational mission and is not in line with the mission of the Queer Alliance.
Moving forward as a Queer Alliance that values inclusion and fostering the queer community in safe and ethical ways, the board and I have decided that it is in the QA’s best interest not to host SPG this year.
The Queer Alliance Coordinating Committee concluded that the common occurrences of violence towards queer and female students: non-consensual sexual engagement, unwanted touching, harassment, and verbal slurs, were enough reason to cancel SPG, despite the financial loss of foregoing the party. To date, there have been no official reports of sexual assault or misconduct, but anecdotal evidence from students who have attended have led us to our current decision.
Although attendees signed contracts promising to seek active consent at SPG, in spite of this students disregarded the policy during the 2013 SPG. Sexual violence goes against every aim of the Queer Alliance. When attendees violated the space, SPG was no longer safe, positive, or inclusive, despite the careful intentionality of the planners. It has been a violent space. We cannot in good conscience continue perpetuating such a space. If we decided to continue to host SPG, it would mean that Brown students decided that a party was more important than the safety and bodily autonomy of their peers.
The Queer Alliance Coordinating Committee also recognizes that everyone who attends SPG has a different experience and some have found empowerment in that space. We are currently open to suggestions on how to construct safe, sex positive and body positive queer spaces on campus. Please email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “RE: Creating Safe Sexual Spaces.”
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