The Collegian
Saturday, September 24, 2022

Panelists share experiences at second "Q&A" forum

Seven panelists from the GLBTQ community participated in the second "Q&A: Queer and Answers" forum Monday night in the Westhampton Center Living Room.

Several students came to the hour-long discussion, which started with reflections on the Live Homosexual Acts at the Pier Sunday night.

"It's hard for me to judge because I know all the people that wrote all of those stories," said sophomore Jon Henry, president of the Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity (SASD). "I'm just glad they're out in the open now and that the people can understand this community."

Most panelists said they were pleased with the turnout.

"I thought there would be like three people and [Henry's] mother that would show up," senior Matt Mello said. "The fact that we had 100 people says a lot."

Junior Michelle Doran said that she is not satisfied with the turnout yet, and would like to see more straight students attend it in the future.

"The heterosexist atmosphere here is something I've never seen before," sophomore Johanna Gehlbach said. "And by that, I mean that they're the main, and homosexuality is the other. And this was a shift from that heterosexist viewpoint."

Gehlbach said she and her girlfriend still got weird looks when they're out together, and there was a negative discourse on this campus.

"There aren't that many of us who are gay on campus, and if there are, there are a lot who are closeted," she said. "We have these forums because we are human. We're not second class citizens, and we should be allowed to be with whoever we want to be with."

Freshman Kadeem Fyffe said the University of Richmond campus needed to wake up to the presence of the GLBTQ community. Having Live Homosexual Acts and Q&A: Queer and Answer are not radical, especially when compared to events that other schools have, such as the Homo Hop at Vassar. Henry said he planned to continue the Q&A forums, and the next one will be in January.

The panelists were asked what their experiences were when they came out to their roommates. Doran had told her freshman year roommate before coming to campus, and they lived together for two years.

Freshman Jamaica Akande said her international roommate loves having a gay roommate, because she can use Jamaica to help her pick out outfits, take shopping and fight off boys after the lodges.

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Gehlbach said she had been assigned to a triple freshman year. She did not tell her roommates about her sexual orientation because she did not think it was their business to know. But after she brought a girl back to her dorm after a party — which Gelhbach said she now realized was a mistake — her roommates had a bad reaction. Within two weeks, Gehlbach had moved out.

Gehlbach said that every time she got on the Safety Shuttle, drivers stopped her because they did not think she was a girl.

"Actually, my girlfriend lived down the hall from me freshman year and told me that she had thought I was someone's little brother living in the dorms," she said. "If you have any gay-dar at all, you know I'm gay.

"That is, if you don't think I'm a 12-year-old boy, you'll think I'm gay."

Contact reporter Mary Morgan at mary.morgan@richmond.edu

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