LGBTQ Community Responds to Recent Vandalism with UConn Speak Out

Several students spoke from personal experience about being queer in a community like UConn. Photo by Rebecca Newman.
Several students spoke from personal experience about being queer in a community like UConn. Photo by Rebecca Newman.

Nearly 200 students, faculty and community members gathered in the Student Union for UConn Speak OUT, a response to vandalism of an LGBTQ art exhibit in March.

The event brought in speakers including Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, State Senator Mae Flexer and the pastor at Storrs Congregational Church Matt Emery.

“We all have a sphere of influence in which we can make a difference on this campus,” Rainbow Center director Fleurette King said.

UConn went from being rated by the Princeton Review as one of the most homophobic schools in the country in 1998 to being rated by the Advocate as one of the top 100 most LGBTQ friendly schools in the country in 2006.

But as Lembo expressed, there is still more work to be done.

“We got a little heads up that everyone’s not on board,” Lembo said.

He said that’s why it’s important that people speak out against acts of hate, because “silence and fear is their oxygen.”

The guest sign-in book at the exhibit was vandalized with the words “god hates the gays.”

Pastor Emery referenced Christian texts, mentioning that the word ‘hate’ is only used four times: to describe those who disregard the needs of the poor and oppressed, robbers and those who have evil in their hearts for their neighbor.

“It sounds to me like God doesn’t hate the gays; God hates the gay haters,” Emery said.

Several UConn students shared their personal stories and experiences about being queer in this community. Many said that they do not feel safe on this campus and they do not feel that there is enough being done to ensure the safety of all genders and sexualities.

USG President-elect Rachel Conboy made a pledge to inform every new incoming class that UConn will not tolerate a homophobic and transphobic culture.

Others, including representatives from the Asian American Cultural Center at UConn and students from Eastern Connecticut State University, said they stood in solidarity with and are allies to the LGBTQ community.

Brad Watson, the photographer for the UConn Speak OUT photo campaign, said the black community and the LGBTQ community have a lot to gain from being allies to each other. He said he realized he could use his photojournalism skills to fight for social justice after starting the “To My Unborn Son” campaign in response to events in Ferguson.

In his closing statement, Varun Khattar asked the audience to share the message of the event by using #UConnSpeakOUT on their social media sites and to participate in other events that the LGBTQ community will be hosting in the future.

Nearly 200 students, faculty and community members gathered in the Student Union for UConn Speak OUT, a response to vandalism of an LGBTQ art exhibit in March.

The event brought in speakers including Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, State Senator Mae Flexer and the pastor at Storrs Congregational Church Matt Emery.

“We all have a sphere of influence in which we can make a difference on this campus,” Rainbow Center director Fleurette King said.

UConn went from being rated by the Princeton Review as one of the most homophobic schools in the country in 1998 to being rated by the Advocate as one of the top 100 most LGBTQ friendly schools in the country in 2006.

But as Lembo expressed, there is still more work to be done.

“We got a little heads up that everyone’s not on board,” Lembo said.

He said that’s why it’s important that people speak out against acts of hate, because “silence and fear is their oxygen.”

The guest sign-in book at the exhibit was vandalized with the words “god hates the gays.”

Pastor Emery referenced Christian texts, mentioning that the word ‘hate’ is only used four times: to describe those who disregard the needs of the poor and oppressed, robbers and those who have evil in their hearts for their neighbor.

“It sounds to me like God doesn’t hate the gays; God hates the gay haters,” Emery said.

Several UConn students shared their personal stories and experiences about being queer in this community. Many said that they do not feel safe on this campus and they do not feel that there is enough being done to ensure the safety of all genders and sexualities.

USG President-elect Rachel Conboy made a pledge to inform every new incoming class that UConn will not tolerate a homophobic and transphobic culture.

Others, including representatives from the Asian American Cultural Center at UConn and students from Eastern Connecticut State University, said they stood in solidarity with and are allies to the LGBTQ community.

Brad Watson, the photographer for the UConn Speak OUT photo campaign, said the black community and the LGBTQ community have a lot to gain from being allies to each other. He said he realized he could use his photojournalism skills to fight for social justice after starting the “To My Unborn Son” campaign in response to events in Ferguson.

In his closing statement, Varun Khattar asked the audience to share the message of the event by using #UConnSpeakOUT on their social media sites and to participate in other events that the LGBTQ community will be hosting in the future.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s