The Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center could not have been a better place to host this forum.
APSU’s Black Student Union hosted an open form titled Racial and LGBTQ+ Intersectionality.
The forum gave students, predominately African Americans and LGBTQ+ members, a chance to voice their opinions, concerns and share stories about the challenges they have faced.
BSU founder Kamea Ferguson, along with Avery Alexander hosted the forum. “The African American community is known for being very homophobic,” Ferguson said.
The forum was created to help bridge the gap between African Americans and the LGBTQ+ community. Students were asked a series of questions about the respective communities and the stereotypes and challenges that go along with them.
Questions invoked passionate and thoughtful responses. Responses led to topics about religion, love, sex, assault, bullying and even the breakdown of the LGBTQ+ acronym. Students were encouraged to be forthcoming and honest about the challenges they have overcome to be comfortable with who they are.
“Religion is one of the reasons the LGBTQ+ community is looked down upon. No one wants to be shamed for not following the Bible or straying away from Christianity,” nontraditional student Brandon Morris said.
Students who did not go through these particular experiences were given insight into what these respective communities have gone through, while also becoming more informed during the process.
Some students talked about experiences that they have faced within their communities. “I literally got beaten up for being gay,” student Kito Alexander said.
“My mother treated my sisters better than me because I use to play with Barbies,” Morris said.
The forum had a discussion about how the acronym LGBTQ+ is broken down. Some students were confused as to what each of the letters meant. That, in turn, opened up another conversation about the history of the acronym and what each letter stood for.
The ending of the forum was used to look into the future. How can these communities come together? What information can be used to teach tolerance within these communities? Students provided their responses one by one to each of these questions. Some responses were emotional, thought-provoking and helpful. “I came to this forum to get everyone’s opinion but also to educate [and] to inform,” Morris said.
Students offered each other comfort and advice. APSU offers forums like these in order for students to open up and have a safe space to talk.