Students gathered on Wednesday, Oct. 2 in a show of support and solidarity for Temple’s gay and lesbian community.
Balloons and streamers in bright rainbow colors decorated the entrance to the 4th Annual Safe Space Coffeehouse on the third floor of the Student Center.
The Safe Space Coffeehouse is intended to provide a welcoming atmosphere for Temple’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) community to gather.
“Events like this are pretty much all that the GLBT community has,” said Temple Lambda president Christina Molieri, “We have the politics and the activism, but above and beyond, it’s important to have the social.”
“In all the years I’ve been here, with all the freshman and transfer students, the queer population has become something of rampant homo-visibility,” said Molieri as she welcomed the audience.
The evening began with remarks from John DiMino, director of Tuttleman Counseling Services, which helped organize the event.
DiMino reminded students of the services offered through the counseling center and said that anyone who has the need can make use of their resources for support.
Temple University President David Adamany also addressed the audience.
Adamany said that Temple has made excellent strides towards acceptance of gay and lesbian students on campus, but that both the government and the world have far to go.
Adamany spoke of the difficulties the university is having in attempting to obtain same-sex partner benefits for its employees.
He also discussed pressures that universities across the country face from the United States military, an institution he said is notorious for its discrimination against gay men, to allow military recruitment on campuses despite their anti-homosexual practices.
“However well things are going on campus, struggles are still fought in the government which affect us as an institution,” Adamany said.
Keynote speaker and community activist Skyler Fein spoke after Adamany.
Fein told his story of coming out as a young gay male and discussed the importance of building community among gays and lesbians.
He challenged the audience to overcome the negative stereotypes held towards homosexuals.
“Somebody dreamed [these stereotypes] up, and it’s up to us to dream more positive dreams,” he said, “When lots of people dream the same dream, that creates [a] community.”
Fein, who spoke at a Safe Space event two years ago, added, “When I spoke for the first time, there were half as many people, and the president of the university certainly wasn’t there.”
“It’s important that an event like this has official approval from the university,” said Fein, “because it sends a strong message to students, both straight and gay, that Temple University is a place for everyone.”
“Events like this show how Temple is such a diverse school,” said sophomore and linguistics major Stephanie Groce, “These things help you interact with people and make you feel more comfortable.
If you don’t have a safe place to feel comfortable, then you don’t really have anything.”
Besides speakers, entertainment by SheWho, a Philadelphia a cappella group and free refreshments, attendees could receive information about support services for the GLBT community.
Temple S-Flag, Sisterspace of Delaware Valley, Multi-Campus Hillel, and the William Way LGBT Community Center all had tables at the event.
Jessica White can be reached at SSparkleJ1@aol.com