Accepting and respecting people that identify as homosexual and transgender without necessarily having a personal connection with them was one of the many topics that arose during UMOJA’s #NOHOMO seminar, on Thursday Sept. 28.
In addition to students, ethnic studies professor Arnetta Smith, counselor Linda Mandich and coordinator of Cadena Cultural Center Vincent White were present for the seminar.
Student program assistant Chinecherem Anijielo lead the event and started off by introducing vocabulary terms such as homophobia, cis gender, and transphobia.
Another activity was a micro-aggression game that introduced common phrases that people say, sometimes without really knowing what they mean.
One example that Anijielo gave was when people say, “the only race is the human race,” they are minimizing the hardships that each racial group has to face.
The game was followed by a clip from The Grapevine called “The Gay Agenda.” It showed a traditional hyper masculine man admitting that not only are transgender women and black LGBTQIA at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, they are most at risk for being killed. Their deaths are being silenced because they are not viewed as important due to their gender and sexuality.
“This is something that many men in the black community find difficult to admit,” explained Anijielo.
Linda Mandich responded to the clip saying, “I think there is some fear in people not feeling like the movement would be taken seriously if somebody different from what somebody perceives, is leading the movement.”
She added that people are afraid if somebody comes in that is trans because they feel as if it’s minimizing the movement or that it is a distraction.
As the discussion went on, the topic of the origins of homophobia and transphobia in the black community emerged. Mandich was quick to answer and commented that she strongly thinks church is one of the many places that it stems from.
Juston Jordan, 19, said he grew up in a religious household and feels like the black church needs to have conversations on why individuals consider themselves better than someone else because of their sexuality.
“It’s really kind of scary almost, growing up in that environment and learning that all the people you grew up with before that said to love yourself and discover yourself, can judge you and hate you automatically with one fact about yourself ,” confessed Jordan.
The discussion followed up with some positive ways to stop transphobia and homophobia when someone is a bystander.
Film major Miles Johnson claimed he was just recently introduced to the gay community and he was ignorant to the issues that the LGBTQIA community went through.
Now that he has gay friends, Miles revealed that it has opened his eyes on why micro-aggressions, saying phrases like “oh that’s gay,” for example, shows a lack of respect and he believes it is now upon people to stop it whenever they hear it.
“If I was in my friends shoes, I wouldn’t like what people were saying to me,” said Johnson. “I think it’s all in personal growth. I think everyone gets there on their own time and you can’t really force anyone to believe something they don’t want to.”
At the end of the discussion, Anijielo announced that this will not be the last seminar they will conduct on this topic because these are issues that are costing people’s lives in the black community.
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