The Center for Gender and Sexuality Brings LGBTQ History Month to Campus

Ryan Lanxton, Writer

This October marks the 25th anniversary of LGBTQ History Month, and the University of Michigan-Flint is celebrating through several events sponsored by the Center for Gender and Sexuality (CGS) and other student organizations, like UM-Flint PRIDE and Feminist Forward. 

By bringing awareness to LGBTQ issues, the hope is to foster a sense of togetherness between everyone on campus and in the community.

The first event of the month is Ally 101: Being a Reliable Ally. Held on October 7at the William S. White Building in the Tuscola Rooms, a panel of speakers, including Rev. Dan Scheid and Dean of Undergraduate Affairs Shelby Newport, will explain what it means to be a good ally to the LGBTQ community. 

On  October 9 starting at noon in the CGS offices, Director of CGS Heather Johnson will present a review of three key United States Supreme Court cases being heard on the previous day. These cases involve Title VII and federal employment discrimination laws concerning LGBTQ rights in the workplace. “I would argue that it has more serious implications than the marriage rights cases because it will take away rights rather than grant them,” said Johnson. 

Later that same day at 5 p.m. in the Kiva, National Coming Out Day will be celebrated. Traditionally held on October 11, the event was moved up so as to allow students to share their coming out stories before the fall study break. 

“It’s incredibly powerful because you never know what you’re going to get and it’s different for everybody,” said Johnson. “You not only learn something about those who are willing to share and be that vulnerable, but I think as a community, really celebrate the richness of the experience.” 

This year, UM-Flint alumni Debrah McGee will talk about her experience witnessing the Stonewall riots, usually cited as the starting point of the LGBTQ rights movement in the U.S. Following her presentation, the documentary film “Before Stonewall” will be shown at 7 p.m. in honor of the 50th anniversary of the event. 

Finally, on October 16, International Pronouns Day will be hosted throughout in the CGS offices. Students can drop in at any time and learn more about why the proper usage of pronouns is important for those in the LGBTQ community. “I think it’s super important and it plays into basic self-respect. Even just calling someone by the name they want to be called, because you respect them as a human,” said Johnson. 

The fight for LGBTQ rights has steadily grown and it’s events like these that help connect the movement with the rest of the community. “I try to make a point to appear at as many LGBTQ events as possible,” said Xorianna Djinn, a student at UM-Flint. Djinn is also an active member of UM-Flint PRIDE and president of Feminist Forward.

“Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying ‘It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones,’” said Johnson. The LGBTQ community is not the criminals Mandela is describing, but they are certainly one of the most marginalized groups in the U.S. “We want to be judged about how we recognize and treat others, and the humanity in others… because we’re all here.”