By: Naizhjay McDaniel and Tatiana Axson, Metro Staff Writers
It was definitely a huge importance to keep an open mind during the LGBT Ally Celebration held here at the Metro campus is various locations. Many facts were given in one day, and if you didn’t know anything walking into the event, more than likely it left you with a lot of questions.
The program aimed to give a better understanding of the community’s culture, it either made some students want to become allies or others want to do more research.
Ryan Zymler, Community Relations Coordinator at the Community Center of Greater Cleveland, broke down what LGBT really means (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender). He explained to the audience sexual orientation vs. gender by saying “Sex is in between your legs, gender is in between your ears.”
Understanding sexual orientation and how it differs from gender, helps people to get a better understanding of, and respect for the movement on a deeper level.
Even though there are various outside influences, Zymler does not believe that the entertainment industry influences the mindset of younger generations to indulge in the LGBT lifestyle.
“People are just people,” stated Masta Johnson, Business Management student.
At one point the Metro campus had a Gay-Straight Alliance that disbanded due to lack of interest in a formal setting. Some LGBT students transferred to other Tri-C campuses, where it is more openly accepted, so this event was designed to encourage re-implementation of the organization.
“We had a tremendous response to the LGBTQ Ally Celebration from faculty, staff and students. We are excited by the number of students interested in restarting the Gay-Straight Alliance here at Metro,” Stated Melissa Swafford, LGBTQ Ally Counsel member.
However, not all students were ready to embrace the culture. Whether it was religious, personal beliefs or just lack of understanding, some students were not in agreement with the lifestyle.
“The lifestyle is misguided and confused,” said Malachi Fitten, Visual Communications and Design student.
Jacob Nash, transgender diversity speaker, brought light to stereotypes, to convey his point; he used the example of women wearing men’s shoes as a form of cross-dressing. Observing, the crowd was left stunned, intrigued, and a bit offended.
Even in the face of confusion for most, the event still left some in a positive mindset. Overall, the event encouraged equality.
“You can always learn more,” Zymler added. “The only way we will grow is through conversations, in which people are learning to expand their horizons, and sometimes it’s through conversations, sometimes its through reading an article, sometimes it’s through meeting a gay person and realizing they’re not something to be afraid of. First and foremost, treat people as human beings.”