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“The Big Gay”: SPECTRUM travels to Michigan State University to take part in Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference.

February 15, 2013

Eight students from Monmouth’s Spectrum Club attended the largest LGTBA conference last week when they traveled to Michigan State University for the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC). This conference is the largest to-date gathering of queer college students with approximately over 2000 students in attendance.

From Feb. 8-10, the eight students led by Spectrum President senior Katie Struck attended workshops, listened to guest speakers and enjoyed entertainment events.

“I got the opportunity to go to a dance club called Spiral.  Latrice Royale from RuPaul’s Drag Race performed, and it was incredible,” said Mackenzie Mahler, who attended the trip. “It was beautiful, and an eye-opening experience.”

Workshops also included times for students to meet in groups with similar identities to discuss how to make life easier for these groups. Lessons ranged from Queer Theory 101 to learning about asexual and polyamorous identities.

“It was really helpful for the students who went to see more diversity. For them and me, it was one of the only chances we get to be around queer and gay people,” Struck said. “It’s also a chance to talk about things that don’t usually get talked about here. There isn’t a queer studies program here. It was also a chance for us to learn things that will hopefully turn into programs that will help students here.”

One particularly interesting speaker for the group was former professional rugby player Ben Cohen. Cohen is a straight ally of the queer movement who spoke at the conference about homophobia in sports.

“We’re hoping to get some of the speakers who were there to come here. We thought [Cohen] would be a good speaker, because he could reach out to the athletes at Monmouth.”

Spectrum hopes to be making many changes on campus, according to Struck.

Along with the changes she is currently working on, she believes attending the conference will have sparked some of the other members to keep pushing for changes.

“The majority of the people who went [from Monmouth] were freshmen, so I’m happy the things they learned will carry on,” she said. Spectrum currently identifies itself as a support and activist group that welcomes all gender identities and sexual orientations.

According to Struck, the environment of the conference was welcoming, as the university’s president along with campus security and city police welcomed the students in attendance.

“It’s held at a college that is very gay and queer friendly,” Struck said. “It’s whatever college seems like it will be a safe environment. Kansas City Missouri is hosting it next year.”

Currently, Spectrum is trying to change the discrimination policy on campus to include gender identities as well as sexual orientations. The group is also trying to bring HIV testing to campus.

“I want to fix this,” Struck said, “so if we have more transgendered students here in the future, they’ll feel comfortable being here. It’s something other colleges are doing too.”

Stevie Croisant
Copy and Layout Editor

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