Monday, July 23, 2007

A New Vision: SHADES adds new faces to exec board

SHADES voted junior Bryson Rose for the 2007-2008 president and added senior Stephanie Kimber to the exec board as the new Community Relations Cordinator.

Bryson Rose, junior African American Studies major

Stephanie Kimber, senior Engineering major

The SHADES exec board for the 2007-2008 school year:

Bryson Rose - President
Evan Robinson - Vice President
Chris Crosby - Treasurer
Esther Banks - Secretary
Stephanie Kimber - Community Relations Coordinator

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Effects: OUT on campus with SHADES

While SHADES provides a safe place for LGBT people of color and a chance for discourse, the group also has been reaching out to the broader campus community to build awareness about the group and it's cause.

During Spring Quarter '06, after just forming the group that winter, SHADES took on organizing a campus-wide event, the Day of Silence. A national campaign founded in 1996, the Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, asked students of the LGBT community and allies to stay silent for the day to protest the silence that is forced upon many LGBT members on a daily basis.

Photo Credit: Submission

SHADES members raised funds, sold t-shirts, and passed out "speaking cards" at college gate on the day of the event to build awareness about the protest. In coordination with OU's LGBT Programs Center they threw a "Breaking the Silence" social event in the former Baker University Center that night featuring musical perfromaces by local artists. The Post even ran an article about the event and because of it's success plans are now in the works for doing it again this year.

The group was also featured in The Advocate, a national magazine that caters to gay issues and concerns usually ignored by the mainstream media, back in May.

Photo Credit: Submission

This past fall SHADES kicked off the school year with it's "OUT in the Community" edeavor. Members have volunteered with United Campus Ministries at their Thursday Night Supper soup kitchen and at Good Works, the Athens area homeless shelter. This spring the group will be participating in OU's Relay for Life, a national fundraiser for the American Cancer Association.

Photo Credit: Submission

Other group ventures this year included bringing down Rashid Darden, author and gay rights activist, to speak during OUT Week 2006 in October. Darden, a native of Washington D.C., had recently published his novel, “Lazarus,” chronicling the trials faced by a closeted gay sophomore pledging a black fraternity. "Covenant," the sequal, is due out this year. A few members of he group also traveled to Cental State Universiy in Wilberforce to meet and hear Keith Boykin and Staceyann Chin speak.

Photo Credit: Submission

Boykin, former aide to Pesident Clinton and a mainstream gay and black rights activist, authored three novels most recent of which is "Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America." He's currently host of the show "My Two Cents," which airs on BET J. Chin is a contemporary poet, performance artist and political activist originating from Jamaica. Her latest works include, "She gets shorter every year" and "My Jamaica;" she also wote "Cross-Fire," a poem chronicling the issues faced by those with "double minority" status.

Photo Credit: Submission

Discussions within the group revolving around the Greek community, offensive slurs and homophobia have prompted plans for a campus-wide forum about various subjects battling the multicultural LGBT community. The forum is set to take place next quarter and committees are forming to start the ball rolling on it's execution.

SHADES' presence on campus seems to be set. The group, though small, has formed a core consortium dedicated to making sure LGBT students of color always have a place at Ohio University. They've become apart of a minute revolution, with other campuses around the country trying to create this same aura of acceptance.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Members: A contemporary melting pot

Photo Credit: Dwayne Steward

Statistics say this group is needed. Professionals say this group is needed. But what do those in the "community" think? Those who face the adversities of this "dual identity"speak out.

Photo Credit: Submission

Evan Robinson
Title: President
Year and Major: Sophomore, Social Work and Business Administration
Hometown: Columbus

"With the small number of us that do exist on campus we needed to find each other. It's our only true support system. We need to build awareness in both the black and gay community...we all need to work together...we're all oppressed and marginalized."

Photo Credit: Dwayne Steward

Esther Banks
Vice President
Sophomore, Engineering

"On this campus, when you go to LGBT groups you're gonna be that one black person, and when you go to minority groups you're just another one of the crowd. When I heard about this group starting I immediately knew that's where I needed to be...I'm just so blessed to have a lot of understanding people around me."

Photo Credit: Submission

Chantelle Fullerton
Senior, Sociology-Criminology and Psychology

"It's a constant feeling of being torn. The black community is pulling you in one direction and the gay community in the other. The true understanding is just nonexistent. It's important to have this group here because of the huge lack of numbers in both communities. Being this big of a minority is just hard and it's important to have someone to relate to."

Photo Credit: Dwayne Steward

Micah Brown
Sophomore, Journalism

"I'm apart of something that's bigger then's a group of people that genuinely's beyond the fact that we're gay, it's much deeper."

Photo Credit: Submission

Dwayne Steward
PR and Community Service
Senior, Journalism

"All my life I've been taught that being gay is a curse, that something was wrong with me. It kept me in the closet for a long time. When I found SHADES I found my self-worth. This group has taught me that being myself isn't a curse, it's a blessing."

Photo Credit: Dwayne Steward

Chris Crosby
Sophomore, Undecided

"I'm in SHADES because it means I won't have to be alone anymore...they've become my family. I no longer have to hide."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Vision: One man's dream to make a difference becomes a reality

He sits in front of his perspective employer shy, timid, hands shaking slightly. After glancing over his resume again Mickey Hart, coordinator of Ohio University's LGBT Programs Center, looks up and smiles. Jonathan Connary's hands calm a bit but his leg is still trembling.

"I see from your resume that you haven't done any of this kind of work before," Hart said. "What is it that has drawn you to our office."

Though somewhat uncomfortable in his surroundings, Connary doesn't miss a beat. "I want to make a difference," he immediately replied. Nearly two years later Connary's proclamation at a simple interview has come true, and is seen through the lives of the students who live his mantra of inclusion and acceptance every day.

Photo Credit: Dwayne Steward

Connary, a second year graduate students hailing from New Hampshire, is credited by a small but mighty group for founding SHADES. A perplexed look may cross the face of skeptics who simply see Connary's pale exterior, but he says his being white has pushed him to do more research on the plight the multicultural lgbt community.

"I feel like I have to know more then those who are in this community so that I can show them my interest is genuine," he said.

Connary could find only ten or so other groups in the country that had groups like SHADES. He contacted them and started compiling feedback. He read novels by multicultural lgbt people, perused Web sites for news on lgbt people of color daily and studied professional journals for a better social, psychological, and economical understanding. Soon all that he needed to find were the people.

"I knew that a multicultural gay population had to exist," he said. "Out of a population of 20,000 people they had to be out there somewhere."

Chantelle Fullerton, SHADES secretary, however, begs to differ, stating a group before Connary arrived might not have been feasible.

"Jon got here at just the right time," Fullerton said. "There were only like two of us here before Jon, but a bunch of freshman came the same year he did, which helped get the group off the ground."

She also said talks of creating such a group the year before had surfaced but no one was willing to step up to the plate and make it happen. That was until Connary arrived.

"He really deserves a lot of credit," she said. "Without him I really don't think the group would have ever become more then a great idea."

Photo Credit: Dwayne Steward

Once piles of research began forming around his apartment, Connary began using Web sites like and tapped into faculty resources to drum up enough response to plant the seed of interest. A small contingency of students and professors was formed at the end of Fall Quarter 2005. SHADES had officially begun.

"After the first few meetings it was becoming apparent that the group should transform into a student oriented organization," said Hart, who's been with the center since 2000 and started conversation about creating a SHADES. So Jon went in search of a president.

In stepped Evan Robinson.

Photo Credit: Cody Plaskett

The soft spoken, socialite, with urban influenced style stepped up and took the reigns of SHADES with a vengeance. The unlikely pair pushed the unknown group into the spotlight making it a force to be reckoned with on campus.

After the first few meetings Robinson said he saw that a great potential existed in what they were trying to do and knew he had to a large part of it.

"I just ran with it," he said. "We just all clicked so well so fast, we've become a family, I love it. It's beautiful. I just love it."

Photo Credit: Jonathan Connary

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Need: A picture of race and sexuality in America

After nearly two years in operation, Ohio’s only multicultural college student union, SHADES, has begun to solidify an unlikely presence at Ohio University, which, though very gay friendly, has only a 3 percent black population.

Amidst controversy and homophobia within the multicultural, especially black community, the group of originally four students has taken on the fight against hatred and has charged itself with changing the world through changing campus perceptions, perceptions that stem from national sentiment.

A detailed explanation of SHADES and its member will follow, but one must first understand why a group for multicultural LGBT students is a necessity in the university community. The beginnings of an answer can be found in our own backyard.

Only 23 percent of the nation’s population is non-white, according to the 2000 US Census Bureau. Roughly 10 percent of that identifies with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, according to This means only 2.3 percent of the population has this “double minority status.” Yet in 2005 56 percent of reported hate crimes were racially motivated and 14 percent were targeted because of their sexual orientation, according to the Federals Bureau of Investigation’s 2005 Hate Crimes Statistics.

Seventy percent of all hate crimes are aimed at 2.3 percent of the population. Would that make you feel safe?

However every cloud does have its silver lining. Twenty-two percent of gay couples are non-white, according to, making racial diversity in the gay community four times as common.

Clearly those in the gay community are becoming more accepting of race however those within the multicultural community have become stagnant, still harboring homophobia because of many institutionally related factors such as the affects of religion and politics. Though there are no statistics to prove this existence of intra-prejudice, many in the multicultural gay community most definitely are feeling the sting, which is what led black gay students at Ohio University to start a group who aims to change the course of national sentiment by starting with their own community.