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.

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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.


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