Despite different perspectives on the issue of sexual preference and orientation, Wednesday’s Queer Café was an evening of cohesive celebration. Mitten Hall’s Owl Cove was decorated in rainbow-colored balloons to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students and their supporters.
As in previous years’ efforts, the sixth annual event was sponsored by Tuttleman’s Sexual Assault Counseling and Education Center. The ideology behind the night’s festivities was intended to provide a haven for GLBT students, according to SACE Assistant Coordinator Michael Hanowitz.
“The goal is to help GLBT students, particularly arriving freshmen and transfer students and their allies to network and become aware of on and off campus clubs and community based programs,” Hanowitz reflected.
More than 17 aforementioned groups were in attendance in which the Bootlickers provided live entertainment. One faction in particular enjoyed their rendition of “What if God was One of Us” was Gatekeepers, the African American Social Organization for GBLT and questioning women.
In recent years, there has been a controversy brewing over the gay struggle and the African American civil rights movement being equated as the same. Rasheedah Phillips, co-founder and attendee, addressed the issue as a black woman who also happens to be out.
“I think there is no one thing that separates the gay black community from the straight community. We are all in a struggle together,” she articulated.
Tyneisha Gardner, affectionately known to her friends as Quadi, also agreed as a black female. The sophomore felt no shame being present and accounted for.
“I feel like I’m me. I am my own individual,” Gardner shrugged.
Other participants of the large gathering such as Danielle Lancellotti and Jon Panofsky were both “excited” to be there. This sentiment buoyed President David Adamany who was a guest speaker at the proceedings. His presence has become a regular part of the event.
“[This event] helps to reassure people…that there are many other GLBT students and supportive staff and faculty,” he remarked.
Following President Adamany’s introduction, former nun turned gay comic Kelli Dunham worked the room with comic relief as the emcee. She told jokes as guests ate assortments of catered foods and drinks and provided insight to her ironic lifestyle choice.
“I thought I would be involved in an area where chastity would not be an issue…but you still have an orientation,” she explained.
Dunham continued to share her thoughts on the importance of an evening such as this. She went to a small Christian college, where she said she “knew kids who were getting kicked out of school for being gay.” It pleases her and organizers that conditions are now evolving.
Stephanie Guerilus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.