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.