Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
Berry’s LISTEN, a student organization dedicated to provide a safe social environment for LGBTQ+ students, hosted the 4th annual “Q & Gay” panel Tuesday evening to inform students and faculty about the LGBTQ+ community.
Six students served as panelists and answered questions submitted anonymously from audience members covering several topics concerning LGBTQ+ issues. These topics included coming out stories, different terms and labels, the sexuality spectrum, relationship with religion and many others. Panelists provided different perspectives in the discussion based on their individual sexuality, gender identification, and personal experiences.
A large portion of the panel revolved around the definition of particular terms used in the LGBTQ+ community. While some panelists identified with particular labels and others left their identification more open, the general consensus was individualism; panelists described that the term a person chooses is defined however the individual wants to define it. Many terms can have multiple interpretations and meanings depending on the person’s preference, and nothing has to be concrete.
Another major point of discussion was the idea of the Gender Unicorn, an educational resource to easily break down the different aspects that play into gender and sexual identification. For some, the graphic was a new concept, while others had seen it and appreciated its detail. Similar to term definition, the Gender Unicorn was seen among the panelists as a potential guide, however gender and sexuality are personal journeys and up to the individuals.
Panelists also discussed the level of acceptance of sexual diversity on Berry’s campus. While students felt colleges can improve their support of LGBTQ+ students, the panelists find hope and strength in each other.
“The best thing about the queer community is it’s kind of built like a family,” senior and panelist Marcus Ghee said.
Many panelists agreed with Ghee’s statement, describing the welcoming and exciting atmosphere they find in their LGBTQ+ peers. For many, this support system was a crucial element against negative reactions to their sexuality they received from other family and friends.
While panelists noted the progress made in acceptance, many hoped that it continues to improve so younger generations feel safe in expressing who they are and want to be.
|GRAPHIC COURTESY OF TRANS STUDENT EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES|