Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.05.03
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The Red and Black - LGBT grads find strength in 'additional ceremony'
2. Yale Daily News - First LGBT reunion not controversy-free
3. The Dartmouth - LGBTQA conference to be held for Ivy League
4. The Harvard Crimson – OPINION: Support Service: The University can take steps to better support ROTC participation
5. The Chronicle - Specialized Reunions Reconnect Alumni With Alma Mater, Encouraging Donations
6. Inside Higher Ed - Larry Kramer Questions Gay Studies
7. The Gazette - UCCS students elect gay president on heels of discrimination controversy
8. SDS Universe - Aztecs Share Pride at LGBT College Fair
9. Daily Emerald - Housing all genders
10. The Eastern Progress - Gay and lesbian student group seeking lounge on campus
11. The Dartmouth - Panelists criticize gay marriage bans
12. Daily Nexus - QSU Hosts Pride Week Pomp
13. The Dartmouth - PRIDE and Prejudice: The Queer History of Dartmouth
14. The Dartmouth - Judges’ panel debates gay marriage
15. Temple Daily Telegram - TC group offers support for gay, lesbian students
16. The Spectrum - PFLAG shows support for grads
1. The Red and Black, April 17, 2009
540 Baxter Street, Athens, GA 30605
LGBT grads find strength in 'additional ceremony'
By Vivian Giang
Although it's called "lavender graduation," this ceremony will be rainbow-colored - graduates will wear rainbow tassels and cords, aside from traditional graduation garments.
In the fifth lavender graduation, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center will offer upcoming graduates an opportunity to share their special moment with families and friends in an intimate setting on April 25.
"I like to think of it as an additional graduation - it's important to acknowledge the accomplishments of our graduates, despite the difficulties they endure," said Jennifer Miracle, director for LGBT. "In the LGBT community, there is sometimes pressure to remain invisible ... so even in the face of their struggles, they are still graduating."
The LGBT center opened in 2005 to create a welcoming space for all LGBT students. Through programs and services, the center offers a support system like a close-knit family for students.
"Lavender graduation is extra special because a lot of students have made the LGBT center a second home," said Jeananne Tiffany, a graduate student from Virginia and member of the LGBT advisory board. "Students will be able to share with one another their experiences, and they'll get to walk with people they consider family."
LGBT's program also will present a keynote speaker, typically a successful University alum who happens to be a member or ally of LGBT. The inspirational speech will be given by Diego Sanchez, the first openly transgender person appointed on the Democratic National Committee. As legislative assistant for Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), Sanchez advocates LGBT and human rights issues.
"The University of Georgia has a particular warm spot in my heart, and I accepted the offer as soon as I learned about it," Sanchez said. "I believe that it's important to gather and recognize each other, and [lavender graduation] gives LGBT people an opportunity to promise to each other, ourselves and others that we will contribute to equal rights and strength in the community."
Sanchez is the only known male letterman to have earned his letter on the women's tennis team at the University.
The ceremony is opened to the public and will be followed by a reception sponsored by Last Resort Grill.
"You don't have to be a friend or relative of the graduates to attend," Miracle said. "If you're an ally and you want to attend, you're welcome to do so - it's certainly not only for a specific group of people."
2. Yale Daily News, April 27, 2009
202 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511
First LGBT reunion not controversy-free
By Raymond Carlson
When more than 300 Yale alumni and their guests arrived at Yale for the University’s first-ever lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender alumni reunion this weekend, they found not only camaraderie, but also controversy.
The first-ever recipient of the GALA Lifetime Achievement Award, gay activist Larry Kramer ’57, harshly rebuked the University for its treatment of gay history as an academic field during the three-day reunion, which was jointly organized by the LGBT alumni association Yale GALA and the Association of Yale Alumni. At a dinner ceremony Saturday, Kramer said the University has wrongly relegated the study of gay history to LGBT studies, arguing that there is a significant semantic difference between gay “history” and gay “studies.”
Declaring that queer and gender theories are “relatively useless,” Kramer — who was among the first to call for action against the AIDS crisis — said gay history has been “hijacked” by queer theorists.
Kramer and Yale have clashed before; in the mid-nineties, Yale rejected a sizable gift from Kramer to create either an endowed chair in gay and lesbian studies or a student center for gay students. In 2001, Kramer’s brother, Arthur Kramer ’49, gave a $1 million gift in Larry’s name to found the Larry Kramer Initiative for Gay and Lesbian Studies, which was closed after five years when the gift was spent.
In order to demonstrate the importance of gay history, Kramer declared that he believes many prominent American historical figures were gay, including George Washington, the famous explorer Meriwether Lewis, Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth.
The study of gay history is therefore important as a means of promoting acceptance for LGBT individuals, Kramer said.
“The plague of AIDS was allowed to happen because most of the world hates us,” he said. “They don’t know we’re related to Washington and Lincoln.”
While alumni sat attentively throughout the speech and gave Kramer a standing ovation, some said afterwards that they were standing not necessarily out of agreement with Kramer, but rather out of respect for his activism in the wake of AIDS.
“He’s been a provocateur all of his career, since the AIDS crisis,” said Ken Demario ’64. “I don’t know if this was an appropriate forum for as nasty a broadside as his was against the University.”
In a brief interview after the speech, Provost Peter Salovey said he agreed that the study of LGBT history is important.
“I think among the many points that Larry Kramer made, he emphasized the importance of gay and lesbian history, and he’s absolutely right that this is a serious area for study,” Salovey said.
Salovey said he is proud Yale has very prominent professors such as George Chauncey and Joanne Meyeroweitz, who both specialize in the field of LGBT history.
Independent of their opinions of Kramer’s comments, alumni agreed that the LGBT reunion was itself an important opportunity to reconnect and interact in a way they never could have as students, when few individuals were open about being LGBT.
“I came hoping this would be one more step in healing the feelings of belonging and alienation I felt as an undergraduate,” said David Kincaid ’74 LAW ’77. “I think this is going to help me.”
The GALA weekend is one of 12 similar events for members of shared interest groups that have been coordinated by the AYA since the launch of its new strategic plan in 2007. On the weekend of April 3, for example, more than 200 alumni gathered at Yale for the University’s first-ever Latino alumni reunion. Other reunions have been organized for a cappella groups and the Yale Debate Association, among others.
While GALA has existed since 1984, this was its first reunion, and AYA Director Mark Dollhopf said the partnership with the AYA made more resources available for the event.
In addition to Kramer, alumni honored at the reunion included Bruce Cohen ’83, producer of Milk and American Beauty, and Eliza Byard ’90, the director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The Yale GALA weekend concluded with a remembrance gathering Sunday morning.
3. The Dartmouth, April 27, 2009
6175 Robinson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
LGBTQA conference to be held for Ivy League
By Susan Matthews
For the first time in at least 30 years, LGBTQA students from across the Ivy League will come together for a conference to discuss the issues affecting their community, according to Gender Sexuality XYZ co-chair Adam Holt ‘09. Dartmouth is not submitting a proposal to vie to be the host for the conference, Holt said.
The conference will include speakers, workshops and a career fair, among other activities, Holt said.
“I think that the sentiment was that [the conference] should be something down to earth, but at the same time academic,” former GSX co-chair Christian Brandt ‘12 said.
A preliminary planning meeting was held at Columbia University earlier in April. The conference, which will likely occur in the fall or winter, will allow participants to raise awareness about LGBTQA issues and exchanges ideas, Holt said.
Students at the April meeting, which Brandt and Holt both attended, discussed the types of LGBTQA organizations that exist at each school and what types of events to host.
The students also discussed the incorporation of LGBTQA studies into their schools’ academic curriculums.
“Part of it is really making a place for queer studies in academia,” Holt said. “The Ivy League is kind of behind state schools in that.”
Holt cited the University of California at Berkeley, which has an independent department for queer studies, as an example of an institution that has incporporated LGBTQA studies from an academic standpoint. Cornell University has a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies program, which offers a minor within its feminist, gender and sexuality studies group.
At Dartmouth, students can pursue a queer studies concentration as part of a women’s and gender studies degree, but women’s and gender studies is currently a program, not a department.
Brandt said he hopes attending the conference will encourage LGBTQA students to become more involved with these issues.
Most other Ivy League schools have multiple organizations for LGBTQA students, while Dartmouth has one, Brandt said. These schools, though, are larger than Dartmouth, which may explain the discrepancy, Brandt said. The conference may give students ideas about how to create more LGBTQA groups, Brandt said.
“I think GSX satisfies two purposes — the political purpose and the social purpose,” Brandt said. “I kind of want to separate those.”
Separating these two purposes could motivate more students to become involved, Brandt said.
“A lot of reasons why queer people don’t come [to LGBTQA gatherings] is because they don’t want to be involved politically,” he said.
Brandt also raised the issue of social space, as the LGBTQA community does not have an affinity house and he said the LGBTQA resource room is too small a space “for more than 10 people.” Holt said the gender neutral floor in the McLane Residence Hall is insufficient to meet students’ needs.
Although Dartmouth is not submitting an application to host the first conference, Holt said he hopes Dartmouth will host a conference in the future. He cited recent budget cuts and the College’s location as reasons why Dartmouth would be “a tough sell.”
“When you have a queer conference on your campus, you just have more visibility,” Holt said.
Brandt said holding a conference at Dartmouth would “change the social scene” because the large number of LGBTQA students on campus would increase the level of community awareness about LGBTQA issues.
4. The Harvard Crimson, April 26, 2009
14 Plympton Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
OPINION: Support Service: The University can take steps to better support ROTC participation
By The Crimson Staff
This week, a panel of Harvard ROTC students and a student protest against Harvard’s refusal to officially recognize ROTC reminded the campus of Harvard’s troubled relationship with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. During the Vietnam War, Harvard banned ROTC from campus and continues to impede student participation because of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy enacted in 1993. Because openly gay and lesbian students are excluded from ROTC under this policy, the University says that its refusal to recognize ROTC on campus is in line with its policies against discrimination outlined in the student handbook.
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy currently enforced by the military does amount to discrimination. It bars some of those who wish to serve their country from doing so, and the Congress should take immediate steps to repeal it. Consequently, although ROTC cadets themselves do not shape military-recruitment policies, we support Harvard’s refusal to officially recognize ROTC, just as it would refuse to recognize any other organization on campus that denied membership to open homosexuals. This policy is not only in line with the standards set forth in the student handbook, but it also matches with the philosophy of openness and inclusion that the University must preserve.
With that said, opposition to DADT should not be conflated with resistance to ROTC and the students that serve in it. The sacrifices made by students who travel to MIT on a regular basis to participate in training should be recognized and valued. They demonstrate a commitment to service that should be admired and followed by the rest of the student body. Because of this, the University can and should take several basic steps to facilitate the choices of these students who wish to serve.
The Harvard Republican Club’s awareness week makes several reasonable requests of Harvard. First, the University should make it easier for ROTC students to cross-register at MIT by covering cross-registration fees and allowing military-science courses to appear on transcripts. Harvard should also improve financial-aid policy so that ROTC grants do not preclude students from receiving Harvard funds.
ROTC is an important and worthwhile program, disregarding the discriminatory practice of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The program provides clear benefits for the military and the nation and allows Harvard students to serve and shape the future of the U.S. military. Currently, the extracurricular atmosphere at Harvard offers many chances to serve the community in different ways, and an ethic of service could and should grow here.
As a university, Harvard has historically highly valued military service. Memorial Church and Memorial Hall stand as looming examples of our commitment to memorialize those who have sacrificed greatly in military duty. President Obama should fulfill his promise of eliminating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When he does, Harvard can once again fully embrace the ethic of military service and the ROTC program.
5. The Chronicle, April 28, 2009
1255 Twenty-Third Street, N.W., Seventh Floor, Washington, D.C. 20037
Specialized Reunions Reconnect Alumni With Alma Mater, Encouraging Donations
By Kathryn Masterson
As reunion season gets under way this spring, some colleges find they can bring new flocks of alumni back to their campuses by offering separate weekends designed to attract specific groups of graduates.
Last weekend Yale University welcomed back 320 alumni for the first reunion specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender alumni. For some of those individuals, especially the ones who graduated in the years before homosexuality became more accepted, it was probably the first time they had returned to the campus since graduation, reunion planners said.
The LGBT event, organized by the university's Association of Yale Alumni and a gay-and-lesbian alumni group, Yale GALA, marked the 25th anniversary of GALA and the recent opening of a support center at Yale, the Office of LGBTQ Resources. The office is designed to coordinate educational and support programs for the campus's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students and faculty and staff members.
The reunion, which comprised concerts, parties, and panel discussions, also featured the writer and AIDS activist Larry Kramer, a Yale graduate, who was given a lifetime achievement award from GALA. (When he accepted the award, Mr. Kramer, who has clashed with Yale in the past, criticized the university's handling of the study of gay history, the Yale Daily News reported.)
The gathering was one of more than 15 that Yale has put together in the past eight months. The events also included the first reunion of Latino alumni, held this month. Such shared-interest groups are largely self-started; working with them and giving them administrative support are part of the strategic plan of the Yale's alumni association, said Mark R. Dollhopf, the group's executive director.
Self-Organized Affinity Groups
The cultivation of affinity groups has been a trend in alumni affairs for 10 to 15 years, said Rae Goldsmith, vice president for communications and marketing at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In the past decade, the number of gay and lesbian affinity groups has grown, most of them organized by the alumni themselves, often with a goal of supporting gay and lesbian students on the campuses. Other affinity groups organize around activities in college, like sports teams and glee clubs.
At Yale, the alumni association has hired more staff members to assist in those shared-interest reunions, some of which can draw almost as many people as the traditional class reunions.
For colleges, sponsoring individualized reunions for affinity groups is a way to reach alumni who haven't stayed connected to the college (some attendees at last weekend's LGBT event reported that it was their first time back at Yale in years). Shared-interest gatherings provide "gateway volunteer opportunities," which can lead to "gateway giving opportunities," Mr. Dollhopf said.
The alumni association does not have data about whether the shared-interest reunions have increased the number of gifts to Yale, but the university does have anecdotal examples of significant gifts' resulting from renewing contact with alumni who had not taken part in club or class activities, Mr. Dollhopf said.
"These are people finding new ways to reconnect to the university, to serve each other, and be part of the larger Yale family," he said.
The Chronicle spoke with two people involved with last weekend's event at Yale about what the reunion meant for alumni and the university. Belmont Freeman is a 1973 graduate and co-chair of the GALA reunion. Maria Trumpler received a doctorate from Yale and is a senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in Yale's Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. She is also director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources.
Q: You say this reunion is a savvy thing for Yale to do. Why?
Mr. Freeman: I think Yale's alumni affairs [officers] have come to realize there's no bad reason for people to reconnect with Yale. This is a wonderful reason. I have no cynicism about this; I just think it's about time. Happy alumni who feel included are the ones who give money to the university.
Q: Do you expect to see more colleges having reunions for their gay and lesbian alumni?
Mr. Freeman: There's a tremendous energy in these shared-interest groups. … It's very pragmatic and smart to pay more attention to them.
Q: When you were president of Yale GALA, in the 1980s, would you have imagined having a big campus reunion with the university's help?
Mr. Freeman: Oh, no. We were struggling to get recognized. It's come an enormous distance.
Q: What does this reunion mean for the university?
Ms. Trumpler: Some alums were already on campus [Friday] and came to my freshman seminar on the history of sexuality. They were all [graduates] from the 1950s. The alums introduced themselves and talked about what happened at Yale [when they were students]. They never heard "homosexuality" uttered in class; they never talked about it in the residence halls. Two had been married. We had an open discussion—it was one of the most moving things I've experienced. It's not so easy to connect alumni from 50 years ago with today's students. It was pretty amazing.
Q: Are the undergraduates taking part in the activities?
Ms. Trumpler: Yes. The undergraduates are excited. They don't have a lot of queer women role models who are talking about their lives and careers. They're really so hungry for "out" lesbian role models.
6. Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Larry Kramer Questions Gay Studies
By Scott Jaschik
Larry Kramer returned to Yale University -- the alma mater with which the gay activist and author has had a stormy relationship -- and offered a harsh critique of the university's commitment to gay studies and of the idea that the discipline should be linked to gender and sexuality studies. Because ties of the sort that exist at Yale between gay studies and gender studies are in fact common in academe, the speech -- posted online by The Daily Beast -- is attracting discussion.
Kramer spoke at a reunion of gay alumni who were honoring him with a lifetime achievement award. He accused Yale of misusing a $1 million gift it received in his honor by relegating gay studies to the area of gender studies, instead of within history, where Kramer says the field belongs. And he attacked the literary and gender theorists who have played a key role in gay studies, saying that they were focused on the wrong issues.
Study of history -- of people who were gay and how society treated them -- would do more to advance the rights of gay people than any theory. His speech mixed discussion of prominent people he argues were gay (including one of Yale's greatest donors of past generations, and several U.S. presidents), provocative language (some of which will follow) that isn't standard for alumni dinners, and a critique of literary criticism that might warm the hearts of neoconservatives.
"[T]he plague of AIDS was allowed to happen because much of the world hates us and most of the world knows nothing about us. ... I needed no queer theories, no gender studies, to figure all this out," Kramer said. "Why can’t we accept that homosexuality has been pretty much the same since the beginning of human history, whether it was called homosexuality, sodomy, buggery, hushmarkedry, or hundreds of other things, or had no name at all? What we do now they pretty much did then. Period. Men have always had cocks and men have pretty much always known what to do with them. It is just stupidity and elite presumption of the highest and most preposterous order to theorize, in these regards, that then was different from now."
He said that Yale was "afraid" to teach about all the people who are gay. And he asked "why is the history department allowing history to be hijacked by the queer theorists just as the English department allowed Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida to hijack literature for the deconstructionists? That travesty found safe haven here at Yale, too."
He said that when Yale shut down the program his brother created in Kramer's honor and when the university refused to support gay history, as opposed to gender studies, "I thought my heart would break. I wanted gay history to be taught. I wanted gay history to be about who we are, and who we were, by name, and from the beginning of our history, which is the same as the beginning of everyone else’s history." (Kramer also claimed in the speech that all references to the institute were "expunged" from Web sites, although in fact the gay studies program at Yale acknowledges and describes the program.)
Kramer's history with Yale and gay studies is complicated. He tried to endow a program in gay studies in 1997, but the university rebuffed him, a move he said was homophobic. Kramer's writing and activism -- on modern gay life and especially on AIDS -- have offended many (gay and straight), but he is also seen as someone who was in many cases right on key issues long before anyone realized it (on AIDS, for example).
Experts on gay studies and gay history had mixed reactions to Kramer's talk at Yale. Although there was little support for his views in their entirety (or even close), several said that Kramer was raising important issues about how gay people should be studied, and about the place of gay history.
With regard to Yale, the speech caused a bit of confusion because that university's history department has two big-name gay studies scholars who write gay history: George Chauncey and Joanne Meyerowitz. So the idea that literary theorists control gay studies at Yale in a way that diminishes gay history bothers people there and elsewhere. Via e-mail, Chauncey said that the program named for Kramer did end after five years, but that it ended "as planned, when the funding did," and that it left gay studies "much stronger than it had been before."
Added Chauncey: "I teach courses at Yale every year on lesbian and gay history, and I share Larry Kramer's belief in the importance of gay history, even though we often disagree in our interpretation of that history. But LGBT studies is an interdisciplinary field which includes much more than history, and I am proud that the program at Yale offers courses in anthropology, sociology, film, literature, musicology, and other disciplines." Of the link between gay studies and gender studies, Chauncey said that "this is a common pattern across the country, and it seems to me a very good one, since as a curricular matter there are so many links between LGBT studies and gender studies."
John G. Younger, a gay studies scholar who is professor of classics and director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Kansas, called Kramer's talk "rambling" and "shrill," and said he disagreed with it. Kramer's list of famous dead gay people is "not history, that's wish fulfillment," said Younger. He said that Kramer takes "such an essentialist view," when "since we're dealing with people, there's always nuance."
Defining people as gay doesn't make sense, Younger said, without some understanding of their cultures and identities and values.
Younger said his gay studies courses take "a constructionist view, that people are not set in stone but differ over time and space, through history."
Jonathan Ned Katz, director of OutHistory.org, a Web site on gay history run through the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and someone who has been publishing gay history for decades, said that he thought the speech pointed to some essential truths, although the fault is with history, not gender studies or literary theory.
"I agree with Larry. I wish there was more history," Katz said. "It's a very complicated and interesting question and I wish it was more openly talked about, so I'm glad that Larry, with his very vocal mouth, is opening up debates about this."
But while Kramer criticized Yale for putting gay studies with gender studies, Katz said that the situation at Yale and elsewhere wasn't just about the choices of university leaders. "I think a lot of that has to do with the conservatism of history departments in the United States [as scholars started to work on gay issues], while gender studies, which came out of the women's movement, and English departments tended to be more open to queer studies, so a lot of important work was done there."
"I expected there to be much more work in gay history" by now, said Katz, but he said that he felt "excitement and a major kinship" in women's and gender studies before many history departments were receptive.
Ian Lekus, chair of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History (affiliated with the American Historical Association), said that Kramer was "certainly right that we need much more gay history" and that the talk continued Kramer's tradition "of speaking truth to power." But Lekus also called the talk "breathtakingly male centered" and said that Kramer took an either/or approach to theory and history that was not appropriate.
"I think where he missteps is not quite grasping how theory can inform history," said Lekus, a lecturer at Harvard University. "I agree with him that theory is no substitute for history. But good theory informs the questions we ask about history."
Lekus also said that the problem Kramer cited -- lack of a sufficient home for study of gay and lesbian history within history departments -- is real, although the situation is better than it used to be. Lekus noted a 2001 report by Committee on Lesbian and Gay History that found that many new Ph.D.'s in the field had difficulty landing jobs in history departments, and that many of them ended up teaching in gender studies programs.
Many young historians today, Lekus said, are doing the kind of history that was overlooked previously, applying traditional history methods but exploring issues related to the treatment of gay people. He noted colleagues who are studying gay people at the GI bill or gay people in the McCarthy era. Lekus is doing research on homophobia and masculinity in the anti-war and other protest movements of the 60s. Lekus noted that the AHA has endorsed his committee's work to promote such research and to study obstacles to advancement for those who study gay topics.
"It's a generational battle, but we are making progress," Lekus said.
7. The Gazette, April 27, 2009
30 S. Prospect St., Colorado Springs, CO 80903
UCCS students elect gay president on heels of discrimination controversy
By Debbie Kelley
On the heels of a controversy over student-fee funding for a gay group at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, two gay students have been elected president and vice president for the next school year.
"It's pretty amazing for this campus and certainly historical," said Crystal Duckhorn, co-chair of Spectrum, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender club on campus.
Polls closed Saturday for the election of student leaders for the term that begins in August. Daniel Garcia and James Burge - both openly gay - will be president and vice president, Duckhorn said Monday. They beat out three other teams of candidates, including the incumbent team of president David Williams and vice president Andy Adair, both of whom were impeached by the student body government in recent weeks.
The student government senate though, has not yet voted to remove them from office.
Their term ends June 1.
Williams came under fire shortly after school started in the fall for refusing to sign off on a request from Spectrum for $2,100 in student activity fees to fund a "coming out day" observance. Williams cited his beliefs and convictions as the reason. But because Williams did not veto the proposal, the funding request automatically passed after five school days, as per the student constitution, and the group received the money for its event.
Spectrum claimed Williams acted discriminatorily, and the student government senate agreed.
Williams appealed to the chancellor, who agreed with the student government's decision and also said he was not objective in making his decision - a requirement of student leaders voting on the allocation of activity fees.
"I believe in protecting First Amendment rights and viewpoint rights," Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said earlier this month. "However, when it comes to distribution of mandatorily collected student fees, there are two Supreme Court cases we have to follow."
The issue caused concern among gays on campus, who said they felt unsafe and were the target of verbal and physical harassment, which resulted in the school's first diversity and safety rally, held in December.
After two failed impeachment attempts and a recall election that the chancellor canceled due to improper processes, the student body house earlier voted this month to impeach Williams. His vice president was impeached in March.
Shockley-Zalabak has asked that the student constitution be revised to more clearly be in compliance with U.S. Supreme Court rulings on student activity fees.
8. SDS Universe, April 27, 2009
5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182
Aztecs Share Pride at LGBT College Fair
By Jennifer Louie
Students and their families had the opportunity to interact with colleges and universities that value lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally individuals at the West Coast Campus Pride College Admission Fair earlier this month.
The fair, a free and public event, featured colleges across the country that demonstrate a commitment to LGBT values by participating in the LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index. The fair was held at the San Diego LGBT Community Center in Hillcrest on April 18.
San Diego State University actively participated in the event to promote awareness and visibility of its LGBT and ally resources, programs and organizations on campus to prospective students.
The event served as a useful tool for high school students and youth groups to familiarize themselves with colleges that identify as LGBT-friendly, as well as getting to know what the campus offers in terms of academic and student life, policies, campus safety, housing and counseling services.
Queer Aztecs and allies
SDSU Director of Diversity Aaron Bruce represented SDSU at this year's college fair, along with students from LGBT organizations on campus, including the multicultural queer-based sorority Gamma Rho Lambda.
According to Bruce, LGBT recruitment and retention efforts are one of many university-wide diversity initiatives, and these types of outreach opportunities allow SDSU to connect with prospective students and their families early on.
About the fair
Campus Pride Admission Fairs are hosted by Campus Pride, the only national, nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.
9. Daily Emerald, April 28, 2009
1222 East 13th Ave., Erb Memorial Union, Suite 300, Eugene, OR 97403
Housing All Genders
By Hannah Hoffman
When junior Lexy Kendall lived in the residence halls her freshman year, she encountered a problem that hadn't been on her roommate placement questionnaire. It wasn't an argument over music or a messy room. It was Kendall's sexual orientation that ended up being a problem and caused her to have to find a new roommate for the year.
Kendall identifies as a lesbian, though she didn't when she entered college. However, University Housing is introducing a step toward a solution to Kendall's situation: a gender neutral residence hall, starting fall 2009.
The hall will be located in Wing B of Carson Hall and have the capacity to house approximately 20 students, Assistant Director of Residence Life Grant Schoonover said. The hall will only be advertised to upperclassmen, but freshmen with pressing concerns could be allowed in as well, he said.
The hall could serve many kinds of students, Grant Schoonover said, including gay or lesbian students who would prefer to live with people of different genders, students who are transitioning between genders or students who want to live with a significant other or a sibling. "Gender inclusive housing is really for all students," he said. "It really benefits all students."
The plan for the hall began last year, between Director of Residence Life Sandy Schoonover and Assistant Director of Student Life Chicora Martin. Grant took over the project during summer 2008.
Martin said she got the idea for a gender inclusive hall after listening to requests from students. They told her they "wanted a space to live with the roommate of their choice," and this is a way to give them that.
"Students, when they move off campus, live with whoever they want to live with," Martin said.
Gender inclusive halls have worked at other schools. Oregon State University has had one since 2007, said Eric Hansen, associate director for housing and dining.
The program has received good reviews from students and national attention, he said, although "the numbers aren't as large as we anticipated originally."
At the University of California at Berkeley, students living in gender neutral housing must take a class on societal gender constructs, said Troy Gilbert, director of academic services in housing.
Berkeley's gender inclusive program has been successful, he said, but like Hansen, said it drew in very small numbers, nearly all upperclassmen.
Overall, the residence halls need to be more sensitive to gender and sexual orientation inclusivity, some students said. Kendall said the roommate questionnaire should have asked either about sexual orientation, or at least asked about students' views on sexuality.
ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz said all the residence halls need to be more gender-inclusive, not just this one. University Housing needs to increase its number of gender neutral bathrooms, "in every [building], if not every floor," he said.
The planners of the University's new gender inclusive hall hope this is the first step in the direction Kendall and Dotters-Katz would like to see.
"Right now our housing system operates in a traditional gender binary and that in itself makes some people uncomfortable," Grant Schoonover said.
10. The Eastern Progress, April 30, 2009
Combs Bldg. 326, 521 Lancaster Ave., Richmond, KY 40475
Gay and lesbian student group seeking lounge on campus
By Jessica Nicholson
Members of Eastern's gay and lesbian community are hard at work petitioning and fundraising to bring a student lounge on campus.
The space, designated the Alphabet Lounge, is envisioned as a welcoming and socializing center open to all, said Samantha Ratcliffe and Farah Ardeshir, two students on the Alphabet Lounge Committee.
The lounge would serve as a place where people could learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
The idea for the Alphabet Lounge came about when Ratcliffe, a sophomore occupational therapy major from Nicholasville, and Ardeshir, a sophomore political science major from Berea, were asked to design an activism project in their women and gender studies class last fall.
"The purpose of the Alphabet Lounge is to have a space that encompasses the gay and lesbian communities' needs not fully being met by the Multicultural Center," Ardeshir said. "We have a vast culture and we need to be recognized on Eastern's campus."
The Lounge draws its name from the lengthy acronym LGBTQQI, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, and intersex.
"This space is open and created for all students," Ratcliffe said. "It would be run by trained student workers and would be open as a relaxing environment where students could come, read, study, and hang out."
Eastern administration is working with Alphabet Lounge Committee members to find the space needed for the Alphabet Lounge. The committee hopes to find space in Powell Student Center, much like that designated for Older, Wiser Learners (OWLS), the university's nontraditional student group.
The committee hopes the lounge will serve to connect and strengthen the gay and lesbian communities on campus and reduce negative dialogue and attitudes directed toward gay and lesbian issues.
Members of the committee said they are trying to prove that not only would the Lounge reduce prejudice toward Eastern's gay and lesbian community, but it would also serve to demonstrate the activity of the gay and lesbian community on campus.
Although the project's future is still very much up in the air, Alphabet Lounge representatives said they are planning to meet with members of the Student Government Association in the future to possibly get the petition passed within the Student Senate.
"Perhaps the passing of the Alphabet Lounge petition and the creation of the Lounge will inspire other students to stand up for their beliefs and possibly take activism into their own hands," Ratcliffe said.
To date, the petition has collected more than 500 signatures and the group has raised hundreds of dollars through fundraising efforts including bake sales.
Alphabet Lounge Committee members said they are still in need of more student volunteers who wish to support gay and lesbian issues on campus. They also need more signatures and student testimonies of negative language that gay or lesbian students have faced at Eastern to help document the need for such a meeting place.
Committee members said everyone would be welcome in the lounge, but only under the condition they use appropriate language, be respectful of everyone's sexuality, gender and sex when in the space.
11. The Dartmouth, April 30, 2009
6175 Robinson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
Panelists criticize gay marriage bans
By Katie Gonzalez
Laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are being inappropriately used to enforce cultural norms regarding sexual conduct, several professors and scholars said during a panel discussion held in Dartmouth Hall on Wednesday. The panel, which sought to address the cultural and political context of same-sex marriage, came just two hours after the New Hampshire Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
The panel featured scholars from the University of Vermont and Vermont Law School, and was the second event in a series hosted by the College for national Law Week. All members of the panel said they supported legalizing same-sex marriage.
The law should not define people solely through the lens of their sexual practices, but instead in terms of their individual identities, several panelists said. The current laws against same-sex marriage are an attempt to preserve traditional social norms, these panelists said.
“As the legislative history shows, the phrase ‘defense of marriage’ is nothing more than a defense of heterosexuality,” Vermont Law School professor and panelist Jackie Gardina said. “When government regulates marriage, it is regulating sexuality.”
Vermont Law School professor and panelist Greg Johnson compared the controversy surrounding same-sex marriage to the United States’ laws prohibiting interracial marriage in the 1940s.
“Courts firmly believed that interracial marriage was unnatural and against God’s plan,” he said. “But those bans were so much more than race. They spoke to the generations about the concept of marriage.”
Proponents of same-sex marriage can use these parallels to advance their arguments, Johnson said.
“We can use those cases to show that the arguments that were rejected then can be rejected now,” Johnson said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “For precedent’s sake, there’s value to use those cases.”
Laws regulating marriage have historically been used to advance society’s conception of the appropriate family unit, several panelists said.
“Arguments about racial integrity were of course appropriation arguments, and there are different appropriation arguments being made today [about same-sex marriage],” Johnson said.
The legalization of same-sex marriage would not be as controversial if social roles were not gendered, Brian Joseph Gilley, University of Vermont anthropology professor and panelist, said in his analysis of the way society defines marriage. Gilley focused on how this definition has pertained to American Indians.
“Tradition is at the root of this misunderstanding,” Gilley said. “Marriage became a differentiated social element. It became the subject of social institutions and begins to get legislated.”
Three states, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, currently permit same-sex marriages. The Vermont legislature overrode Republican Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto of legislation legalizing same-sex marriage on April 7, approving legislation that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
Although New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage through the legislative process, most states that have legalized same-sex marriage have done so through the judiciary, Gardina said.
“There’s hardly a national consensus regarding the status of same-sex marriage,” she said.
Gardina pointed to the March 3 lawsuit filed by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders organization against the Defense of Marriage Act as a potential landmark case. Gardina predicted that the lawsuit, in which GLAD contends that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, will reach the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
She added that President Barack Obama advocates the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The panel was sponsored by the Dartmouth Lawyer’s Association, Dartmouth GLBT Alumni/ae Association and the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, among other organizations.
The original version of this article incorrectly stated that all panelists came from the University of Vermont. In fact, Jackie Gardina and Greg Johnson are both professors at Vermont Law School, while Brian Joseph Gilley is a professor at UVM.
12. Daily Nexus, April 30, 2009
UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara CA 93106
QSU Hosts Pride Week Pomp
By Rebecca Bratburd and Casey Capachi
The campus has been awash in rainbow flair since Sunday night, when 300 students turned out for UCSB’s 3rd annual student-run drag show at I.V. Theater.
The event kicked off the Queer Student Union’s annual Queer Pride Week, which has offered educational workshops and social programs for queers, allies and the “queerious.” The 19th annual Queer Wedding — Pride Week’s symbolic finale — is slated to start hitching happy couples (or threesomes) in Storke Plaza at noon tomorrow.
Bayardo Ortiz, a fourth year dramatic art major played Host Diva at Sunday night’s festivities and introduced the nine featured acts, flaunting a dazzling new ensemble each time he took the stage.
“This is like the Academy Awards of the UCSB Queer Community,” Hassan Naveed, a fourth year political science and history major, said.
Sevasti Travlos, a second year global studies major and President of the Vagina Monologues, co-organized the event, which she said was a complete success and the perfect way to start off Pride Week.
All glitz aside, event organizers said the focus of the event was fostering open-mindedness within the local community and putting on a great show in the process.
“I hope that people had fun but also came away with a little more acceptance,” Travlos said. “It would be great if people enjoyed the performances with no biases and were able to appreciate the drag show for its entertainment value.”
The Queer Pride Week festivities continued with an opening ceremony on Monday that included a keynote speaker, a water balloon fight and a pie-eating contest. Open mic and coming out monologues hosted by the QSU took the stage at the MultiCultural Center Theater on Tuesday, and a Queer Bombing event exploded at the University Center Panda Express yesterday at noon.
Gloria Schindler, co-chair of the Associated Students Queer Commission, said queer bombing is designed to making queers visible on campus.
“Originally, queer bombing was a way to protest military recruiters on campus because of their anti-gay policies,” she said. “Now it means a bunch of gay people get together in one area to make themselves noticed. It has turned into a way to make the queer community visible.”
Queer Music Night is scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight in the MCC and includes queer hip hop artists Last Offence and Julie Potter from Los Angeles. The concert is sponsored by the QSU, MCC, the Sociology Dept., the Feminist Studies Dept., the Chicano Studies Dept., as well as Professor Nikki Jones and Professor Mireille Miller-Young.
Friday night, a professional drag queen show, with four drag queens hailing from the 801 Cabaret in Florida, will grace Campbell Hall for a free show from 7 to 9 p.m.
Schindler said that the popularity of the week’s events demonstrate the progress made by the queer community on campus in recent years.
“Queers on campus weren’t organized and didn’t have much funding until about two years ago, when the student’s initiative was passed and the queer resource center emerged, and is now flourishing,” Schindler said. “More and more groups have formed based on sexual identities and racial identities for both social and political reasons.”
13. The Dartmouth, May 1, 2009
6175 Robinson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
PRIDE and Prejudice: The Queer History of Dartmouth
By Eve Ahearn
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Allied issues have made headlines in the national papers repeatedly over the past year — from continued protests over the passage of Proposition 8 in California to the New Hampshire Senate voting to legalize same-sex marriage this past Wednesday.
At the College, where The Dartmouth’s own headlines have trumpeted news of the third annual PRIDE Week this past week, this week’s Mirror asks, ‘How has being a part of the LGBTQA community at Dartmouth changed in the past few years, and where is the community headed in the coming years?’
“I feel like Dartmouth has definitely changed and become more inclusive of LGBT students, but there is still a long way to go,” Ray Rodriguez ‘09, one of the organizers of PRIDE Week, said.
The letter A is sometimes added to the acronym LGBTQ to include “allies,” or people who are not LGBTQ, but advocate for the fair treatment of those who are.
“In my eyes, there’s a huge difference in the LGBT people that have been here for four years, and the ’12s that just came in. This is obviously a generalization, but overall the [’09s] are not as willing to put themselves out there in a way that’s soul-bearing,” Christian Brandt ‘12, publicist for Gender Sexuality XYZ, said. “I feel like that’s essential for creating the kind of change that we would like.”
GSXYZ, also referred to as GSX, changed its name from the Gay-Straight Alliance last year in order to be more inclusive, Brandt said. The organization holds discussion meetings each week, and is sponsoring PRIDE Week with the help of a host of other clubs and campus groups.
In addition to PRIDE Week, other recent campus-wide developments concerning the LGBTQA community include the introduction of gender-neutral housing in Fall 2007 and the expansion of the non-discrimination policy in June 2006 to include gender identity and expression.
Dartmouth, however, like the nation as a whole, has a history of discrimination against members of the LGBTQA community.
As there were no out and openly gay or bisexual men in the early years of Dartmouth, according to a librarian at Rauner Library, it is difficult to gain a sense of these individuals’ experiences. The only evidence of their existence is through penal records.
“The Boys of Beaver Meadow: A Homosexual Community at Dartmouth College,” an essay by Nicolas L. Syrett, documents one early case in the mid-1920s in which one student was expelled from the College and two students were ousted from their fraternity, Epsilon Kappa Phi, for suspected homosexual activity in an off-campus house in West Norwich, Vt.
The Gay Student Support Group, founded in 1977, was the first organization that served as a voice for gay students on campus. GSSG changed its name to the GSA in 1979.
Despite the formation of the GSSG, discrimination persisted. In 1984, for example, one Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity member was forced to depledge and another was asked to remain permanently inactive after they said they were openly homosexual.
“As recently as two years ago, students who were open about their homosexuality might discover one morning that someone had urinated under their dormitory door,” said a 1988 Boston Globe article about a Dartmouth student-run theatre production on the topic of AIDS.
“When I came here, it was more like, ‘Those are the gays,’” Taylor Holt ‘09 said. “I feel like for a lot of people, it’s one of the many identities they have — it’s not just their first one.”
In a campus environment that is increasingly open about sexuality, the gay community has also been transformed from a separate entity into what has become an integral part of the College, Elsa Rodriguez ‘09 said.
“I think to now, especially for women — queer women on this campus — it’s become a much more open thing,” she said. “It’s no longer like, ‘Those women, those are the queer women.’ People are much more open to exploration.”
Just as members of a cultural group overlap with other communities and groups on campus, so do members of the LGBTQ community. Nevertheless, athletics is the one area of campus in which the LGBTQ community has a relatively small presence.
“[Being gay at Dartmouth] has been a very positive experience, but one thing that definitely disappoints me is the very small population of out gay athletes,” Tyler Ford ‘11, a member of the men’s track and field team, said. “That leaves us without a support system.”
“Sports is one of the hardest places to come out in, to feel comfortable. Especially for guys, it’s such a macho area,” Holt, a former member of the men’s water polo team, said.
Many students I spoke with said that the low number of openly-LGBTQ students in athletics leaves only those that are present to serve as role-models, placing additional pressure on these students.
“Dartmouth has had a history of out gay athletes, and gay athletes at Dartmouth have the responsibility that they need to represent something more to closeted gay athletes throughout athletics, to the gay community in general,” Holt said.
Ray Rodriguez said that for many LBGTQ students, the focus has changed from declarations of existence to advocacy.
“I think it’s moved away from students having to showcase that they are here, getting the community to be visible,” he said. “What is needed now is more gender-neutral spaces and for the administration to show visibly that they care about that.”
Although Dartmouth introduced gender-neutral housing last year, students seeking these rooms are limited to only a handful of designated floors and rooms in residence halls like Fahey-McLane. Students who wish to live in a gender-neutral space can also try for a single during room draw. This option, however, is sometimes only available to upperclassmen with high priority numbers.
“People have these set notions of gender roles and gender identifications, that it completely limits peoples ideas about how we can interact with each other in the world,” GSXYZ member Mia Wiegand ‘12 said. “I think the Greek system here perpetuates [such notions] in a higher way than it would [elsewhere]. I think that it’s a common thing when you have a Greek system, a gendered Greek system.”
On campus, where Greek life is prominent, there are many openly-LGBTQ members at a wide range of single-gender Greek houses. Individuals’ experiences within their houses vary widely.
“There aren’t enough spaces that are inclusive of gay students. The Greek system is the first example. I am a member of a Greek house, and sometimes even I don’t feel welcome,” Ray Rodriguez said.
Other students agreed that campus lacks enough inclusive spaces for students.
“I pretty much find it an open campus in general,” Elsa Rodriguez said. “In Sigma Delt, it’s a pretty open house. Maybe everyone is not as comfortable seeing gay PDA but there’s no anti-anything. I haven’t really experienced that at all.”
Some students expressed concerns with the College administration’s policy towards LGBTQ students.
“The institution is afraid of showing visibly that it supports LGBT students. It’s nice to get a lot of money. It’s one thing to give money and it’s another to be vocal and visible,” Ray Rodriguez said.
Dartmouth has changed in the four years that members of the Class of 2009 have been on campus, according to Rodriguez. He added that now, perhaps, it is up to the ’12s to plan out the changes they would like to see implemented in the future.
“I want GSX to be more politically active,” Brandt said. “I think that there should be — if not GSX being politically active — a new club should be formed that can be politically active. Right now GSX is more a discussion group.”
Some students, however, expressed the need for student discussion outside of GSX.
“I think that discourse is really important. Calling people faggots — rhetoric is really important — that can be worked on,” Lizzy Hennessey’09 said. “We have to decide as a Dartmouth community how we’re going to speak and what those words mean. If they’re offensive to anyone, they’re offensive to everyone.”
Changes in other aspects of life at the College could also make the school even more inclusive, Ford said.
“If I had to set a goal for the athletic department, I would like to see a support system, whether it be a discussion group or a counselor, and make that person really visible,” he said. “I would like to see every team have a meeting before the season starts to discuss the atmosphere, and what is to be expected, and what won’t be tolerated.”
Otherwise the atmosphere could affect the individual athlete’s performance, Ford said.
“People can’t be coming down to practice worrying about whether they’re going to be called gay, whether their teammates will feel comfortable around them,” he added.
Nevertheless, Hennesey said that the atmostphere at Dartmouth can be protective.
“There’s a little bit of a stigma that you have to get over, but it’s a non-issue, sort of,” Hennessey said. “Here I feel like we’re protected in a way. It fits with what Dartmouth’s about in general, the Dartmouth community.”
14. The Dartmouth, May 1, 2009
6175 Robinson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
Judges’ panel debates gay marriage
By Emily Goodell
Three current and former state supreme court justices explained their decisions in landmark cases on same-sex marriage at a panel discussion in Dartmouth Hall on Thursday. Judges from the supreme courts of Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts spoke to a group of about 50 students, faculty and community members.
Former Vermont Supreme Court Justice James Morse ‘62 voted in the court’s unanimous 1999 decision in Baker v. State of Vermont. The court ruled that same-sex couples could not be denied the rights and benefits of marriage. Vermont attorney Beth Robinson ‘86, who had argued the case for the plaintiff, was the moderator for the Thursday panel.
Morse said the Vermont Supreme Court based its ruling on the state’s constitution, pointing to the “common benefits clause,” which states that “government is instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, and not for the particular advantage of any single person, family or set of persons.”
While the court determined that it could not deny the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, Morse said, it stopped short of granting the plaintiffs marriage licenses, leaving that decision to the state legislature.
“At the time, we didn’t understand the issue of what the label [of marriage] meant,” he said. “When you think about it, when you say, ‘For the rest of us we’ll call it marriage, but for you we’ll call it something else,’ that really is kind of a slap in the face.”
Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Robert Cordy ‘71 was the only panelist who had voted against legalizing same-sex marriage.
The plaintiffs in the case Cordy presided over brought two arguments before the court. First, the plaintiffs argued that the existing marriage statute should have applied to same-sex couples. The court rejected that argument, Cordy said, because “it was clear that the word marriage had a very specific meaning in the common law.”
The second argument was that there was no “rational basis” to exclude homosexual and lesbian couples from the right to marry, Cordy said. The majority of the court agreed and ultimately ruled to redefine marriage so that it would apply to same-sex couples.
Cordy said he disagreed with the ruling because he believes the court does not have the right to redefine marriage. The debate was not about the issue of gay marriage itself, he said.
“I thought it was not my job to disagree with the legislature; as a judge it was not something that we should decide,” Cordy said, pointing to clauses in the Massachusetts State Constitution that emphasize the separation of powers between different branches of the government.
The third panelist, Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz, ruled in the majority of a 4-3 opinion establishing same-sex marriage in her state. The Connecticut case was distinct from the other states’ judicial efforts because by the time the case got to the state supreme court, the legislature had already legalized civil unions for same-sex couples, Katz said. As a result, the sole decision before the court was whether same-sex partnerships could be called marriages.
Katz said the court considered the history of discrimination against same-sex couples, the premise that being homosexual does not affect an individual’s ability to contribute to society and the “political powerlessness” of the gay population.
“There was a risk that the discrimination would not be rectified sooner rather than later solely as a result of the democratic process,” Katz said.
The panel discussion was part of a series of events centered on the issue of same-sex marriage for Law Week.
The Law Week events were organized by the Legal Studies program and funded by the program and the Dartmouth Lawyers Association.
“I strongly believe that this is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Native American studies professor Bruce Duthu, who coordinates the Legal Studies program and organized the Law Week events. “These issues are ideally suited for discussion at a liberal arts schools. It permeates our entire society.”
The three panelists also participated with members of the Dartmouth Lawyers Association in a “Careers in the Legal Profession” panel earlier on Thursday.
15. Temple Daily Telegram, May 3, 2009
P.O. Box 6114, Temple, TX 76503
TC group offers support for gay, lesbian students
By Dan Fearson
For Jonathan Marmon, going home can be a little bit unnerving around the holidays.
“It’s difficult - to have one family member who supports you and another one who really doesn’t,” said Marmon, 21, a Temple College student from Rogers. “The holidays are always a little bit different. It’s like the elephant in the room - I’m gay.”
Marmon is the president of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual student group, the True Colors Coalition at TC.
“Things around the holidays definitely aren’t like they were before I came out,” said Marmon, who said his dad, a minister, is less supportive of his sexuality than his mom, who disagrees with it, but still offers support. “I don’t talk to my dad about my (sexuality). It’s just something we don’t discuss because he opposes it.”
High school wasn’t much easier for Marmon, who said he hadn’t come forward as a homosexual yet (he came out publicly when he was 18) to people other than his close friends.
“I mean, I would never hear someone say something to my face, but as I was leaving the room sometimes I’d hear people say things like ‘fag.’”
Marmon said there isn’t much of a support group in Bell County for homosexuals, so he, along with another student decided to create True Colors on campus toward the end of the fall semester last year.
“There really aren’t any resources or social sciences locally that are gay friendly,” said Marmon, who mentioned that there is a group called the Gay Straight Alliance of Central Texas, based out of Central Texas College and Tarleton State University, that caters to the gay community.
“We wanted to form a group that students could join to help educate themselves and the people around them about sexuality issues,” Marmon said. “It’s not just for homosexuals or bisexuals, we allow everyone to participate, including straight students.”
Since forming, the group has held an open microphone event on campus, where students read poetry, sang songs or told jokes. The group helped facilitate a successful clothing drive during the month of April, where they collected more than 2,100 items for the Salvation Army and the St. Vincent de Paul Society Store.
“I think it’s important to have some place where you can go and feel wanted,” said True Colors secretary Jomi Erickson, 20, of Belton, a bisexual. “I think a lot of times the public looks at bisexuals as people who can’t make their mind up. They just don’t understand that a person can be attracted to both men and women.”
She said that’s why this group is important.
“We talk about those issues during our meetings,” Erickson said. “We talk about how there are marriage issues and issues of double standard … how some people are OK with the idea of lesbians, but not with gay men.”
Vice president Keith Williams says the group has about 15 active members who show up during meetings, but they receive inquiries from interested students on a daily basis.
“A lot of people have sent us e-mails asking about when we meet,” he said. “It’s usually positive, but when we first started, sometimes we got some nasty messages.
“We just want the community to accept”
Williams, who’s originally from Philadelphia, said he hoped the group would continue to grow, and branch out with the other area alliance.
“We’re going to continue to try to do what we’ve been doing with things like the clothing drive and help out the community,” he said.
16. The Spectrum, May 3, 2009
275 E St. George Blvd., St. George, Utah 84770
PFLAG shows support for grads
By Jennifer Weaver
CEDAR CITY - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of St. George demonstrated "love and support" for the Southern Utah University graduates with a 30-minute peaceful picket in protest of Saturday's 2009 commencement.
The group of 16 - located in a reserved, roped-off, grassy mound in front of the Dixie Leavitt Business building, designated as a free-speech zone - shouted repeatedly, "Congratulations." They were answered with cheers, applause and expressions of gratitude from some marching cap and gown-clad students - a few wearing hot pink ribbons and scarves signifying PFLAG support - on their way to the Centrum Arena for the morning graduation ceremony. The watchful eyes of six law enforcement officers from various agencies posted about 20 feet away observing the exchange was ever-present.
"There has been hardly any negativity at all," said Mark Setser, PFLAG member. "There have been a few people who whispered things under their breath, and a couple of outright comments, but I would say that was about one percent of the 99 percent of positive responses that we received."
PFLAG is a national non-profit organization with more than 200,000 members and supporters and more than 500 affiliates in the United States. Cedar City does not have a chapter but the Southern Utah affiliate headquartered in St. George with nearly 50 members wanted the gay and lesbian SUU graduates to know publicly that they were valued despite what they viewed was an inappropriate choice for a commencement speaker.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas S. Monson was the keynote speaker and received an honorary doctorate degree in public service. PFLAG and supporters of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer rights choose the SUU commencement to remind Monson to support expanded health care, fair housing and employment and removal of inheritance and insurance barriers for GLBTQ families.
Dixie State College PFLAG member Brandon Jarvis held a poster mounted on a stick that displayed two symbols: the LDS green shield with the letters CTR, which stand for "choose the right," and the equal rights sign that has two yellow equal bars on a blue background. He said his picket sign meant, "Choose the right. Support equal rights."
"We're just trying to be peaceful and send out a message of equality and let everyone know we love them, and we just believe that human kind means kindness to humans and we just want everyone to love each other," Jarvis said. "Graduation is an opportunity where everyone is going out into the world and leaving the safety and shelter of a university campus, and there has been some division through this graduation, and so instead of sending a message of hatred, or us vs. them, we just wanted to send a message of cohesion."
However, the police presence was daunting to Jarvis.
"It kind of sucks that they are putting us behind lines and watching us like that but its OK because we know we're sending a message of love and we're not here to disrupt or cause a problem," he said.
Rashid Solo, age 30, a self-professed born again Christian, stood on a stool with five of his own supporters proclaiming Jesus as the Christ and calling whoever would listen to repentance on a portable microphone after the graduates had all entered the Centrum and the PFLAG protesters were dispersing to go to breakfast. He said SUU commencement and PFLAG's attendance motivated him to exercise his own freedom of speech about his beliefs.
"People are here, and where the people are, we care about the people, and we want them to know that there is a way out. There's a way to be saved; there is a way to get right with God," Solo said. He also distributed $1 million dollar bills that offered a religious message.
The PFLAG protest resumed at 3:30 p.m. with a picket walk from 300 W. University Blvd. to the Heritage Theater at 105 N. 100 East, where guest speakers - such as SUU Vice President of Student Services Donna Edlemann and PFLAG Mountain West Regional Director, Jean Hodges, from Boulder, Colo. - addressed the gay and lesbian supporters followed by socializing and refreshments.
"I think it's a beginning of a new day for these students," said Hodges. "We want to give a send-off to the gay and lesbian graduates especially because we want them to know that they've got a bright future ahead of them ... we advocate for these young people, and such a change comes incrementally, its comes one-to-one.
"So what we hope to do is touch the hearts of people, to change them over time - and we can't say that it will happen tomorrow, although we wish it would - it takes time. So we're dedicated for the long-term," Hodges added.
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