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September 21, 2023

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LGBTQ panel discusses race, sexuality

Being a person of color and a member of the LGBTQ community are two things some people do not associate together, but some groups on campus are working to change this view.

Delta Lambda Phi hosted a panel discussion called Race and Racism in the LGBTQ Community.

The six person panel consisted of senior LaShaunda Brown, sophomore Breshea Anglen, freshman Ed Vaughn, sophomore Daniel Rivera, Ethnic Studies Professor Anne Mitchell and Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs Tobias Spears.

Kyle Shupe, the programming chair for Delta Lambda Phi, said the idea for the panel came to him after a conversation with a friend.

“I realized cultural diversity is not represented in the LGBTQ community,” he said.

Shupe said he hoped the panel would bring light to the fact that there is little association between being black and being a member of the LGBTQ community.

“I’m hoping to spark discourse on race,” he said.

The panel spoke a great deal about the LGBTQ community needing allies.

“To be an ally you need to be comfortable being viewed as a member of the LGBTQ community,” Brown said. “You will be viewed as LGBT.”

Brown said when walking across campus with friends she feels that she needs to warn them how they will be viewed.

Because she is viewed as “that gay girl” people may view her friends as a member of the LGBTQ community or Brown’s next possible girlfriend, she said.

Being queer and being of color were two things that were not associated when Brown first came to the University.

“I have been put in situations where I pick whether I’m queer or black,” she said.

Even when at home Brown said she will feel segregation in her group of friends.

“If they are talking to white people they will say ’this is my black friend,’ and if they are talking to black people they will say ‘this is my gay friend,’” she said. “Why can’t I just be a friend?”

Senior Amy Finkenbine said the panel made her uncomfortable, and it was a good thing.

“It made me realize that I still have to work to be an ally,” she said.

Valentino Zullo, a graduate student and General Studies Writing instructor, said the panel was the best he has seen.

“It was the strongest, most well put together and most enlightening panel,” he said. “It challenged me, I forget to think of these things myself even being middle-eastern and gay.”

After spending much of her college career leading various organizations, Brown said you need to remember each individual person you are dealing with.

“If you can’t be humble enough to touch every person you are not a good leader,” Brown said.

Mitchell said she is so outspoken about the topic because she has always been viewed as an outsider.

“I’m not afraid to be alone, I’m not afraid to make people angry,” she said.

A quote that Mitchell referred to from Audre Lord is one that she likes to refer to.

“‘Our silence will not protect us,’” she said.

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