Online criticism was ‘an act of erasure,’ president of group claims
A shakeup at a George Washington University LGBT group came after the vice president of the group claimed in a Facebook post that minority LGBT members rarely attend the organization’s meetings.
The president, public relations chair and events chair of George Washington University’s Association of Queer Women and Allies’ executive board stepped down shortly after vice president Juliana Kogan “said in a Facebook group for LGBTQ women at GW last month that people of color don’t attend AQWA events,” according to The GW Hatchet.
The post sparked “online backlash from members of the group who said the comments were inappropriate and offensive,” The Hatchet reported.
Though none of the resigned members evidently had anything to do with the post, they nonetheless stepped down “in an effort to form a more representative leadership.” All but one of the eight members of the current executive board are white.
“The elections are our way of having the community decide if they still have trust in us and the members that do decide to run again, if they deserve to have these positions and to refresh and to reinvigorate and make the AQWA e-board inclusive,” the former president told The Hatchet.
In an interview, Kogan declined to comment directly on her remarks in the group. She said in an email that she did not believe her comments were offensive when she posted them, but later “comprehended how they could be perceived as such after the nuances were pointed out to me and I adjusted my position.”
“I hold no prejudice against people of color and outright condemn racist ideologies,” Kogan said. “I did not intend to offend anyone; however, I recognize that my intent does not mean people were not hurt.”
She said she hopes the overhaul of the executive board shows that the group takes “responsibility for harmful things that were said in the past” and has “an active desire to better the organization, educate membership and just be a better organization as a whole.”
The day after the remark was posted, Kogan apologized in GW Gaydies for her comments and announced her resignation. She said she didn’t want her “poor words and actions” to be reflected on AQWA.
“I realize I have come from a place of privilege and ignorance,” she wrote. “I should have done prior research before engaging at all with the original post. I am now more informed and realize why my words were as harmful as they were, and as unacceptable as they were.”
A statement from the group read, in part: “We at AQWA believe that we, along with the entirety of the queer community, have a long way to go to be inclusive to POC.”