Candlelight walk educates campus community

A candle light walk around campus on Thursday night for National Coming Out Week educated students on LGBT struggles and suicide prevention.

President of Women Who Love Women, an organization supporting lesbian women at the University, Maddison Prether said the walk’s purpose was to educate and raise awareness about suicide prevention in the LGBT community.

Sophomore Liz Grabski said the plan for the walk started this past year when there was a great deal of suicide stories in the media of those who identify themselves as LGBT.

“Not everyone has had a good coming out experience,” Grabski said. “We’re here to try to make it positive and to make the best of a bad situation.”

The walk consisted of three stations with a speaker at each stop. The three stations: hate crimes, suicide and prevention provided posters with facts on each around campus.

Sophomore Rachel Minarcion said the walk was important to her because she had gone through similar experiences in her life and it showed her she was not alone.

“There’s so many different people here, the support is comforting,” Minarcion said.

The first stop, hate crimes, informed students on the impact that violence has on the LGBT community. Senior Shaunda Brown-Clopton said as a person who knows victims of hate crimes, she felt it was a necessary first stop because these attacks can perpetuate suicide.

“Hate crimes can affect anybody,” Brown-Clopton said.

At the second stop, suicide, students were given a description and a photo of someone in the LGBT community who had committed suicide. Sophomore Margaret Scott said the stop was important because suicide in the LGBT community is often ignored.

“It’s almost like we don’t try to prevent it, like it’s a part of the background,” Scott said.

The last stop, prevention, provided students with information on local resources and national hotlines, websites, books and videos to help people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, gender identity, hate crimes, bullies or just need someone to talk to. Junior Nick Horne said he enjoyed the walk because it showed there’s plenty of people who are willing to listen and support the LGBT community.

“We have great resources, not just in BG but nationally,” Grabski said. “Bullies might forget who they bully, but those being bullied do not forget their abusers.”

The organization’s executive members were extremely happy with the turnout of the first annual Women Who Love Women walk and said they plan to organize another one next year, Grabski said.

“We’re happy with what people can take away from this experience,” Grabski said. “We all have the ability to be a good person.”

The University’s Report It! division of student affairs keeps track of hate crimes. If you are a victim of a hate crime, call the UPD at 419-372-2346.