Butler’s LGBTQIA+ Alliance organization aims to create a safe enviornment for memebers of the LGBTQ+ community. Photo courtesy of Dezeen Magazine.
JA’SIA WARD | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
Despite facing many challenges throughout history, the LGBTQIA+ community has grown to be an “increasingly-recognized and fabulous” community, as David Murray, Alliance faculty mentor would say.
Butler’s LGBTQ+ Alliance is a student organization on campus that anyone can join. The organization aims to bring recognition to LGBTQIA+ voices and provide education, including domestic violence awareness, events discussing individuality within the community and LGBTQIA+ virtual movie nights.
Paul Ford, a first-year entrepreneurship and innovation major and Alliance’s treasurer, said he believes Alliance is an organization that shares information about LGBTQ+ communities while providing a positive space for all its members.
“The main goal of Alliance is to create a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community and to educate our peers,” Ford said. “Having an organization like Alliance makes the LGBTQ+ community feel represented and gives them a collective voice.”
Students like Ford find it important to realize that there are sub-communities within the LGBTQIA+ community, filled with individuals that are all unique. Murray, also a bass professor and director of the School of Music, said oftentimes the LGBTQIA+ community will get lumped together under one stereotype — a continually-frustrating issue, as there are vastly different cultures under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.
“There’s the rainbow flag, which represents the LGBT community,” Murray said. “All those different colors represent that there are so many facets of what make up gay people.”
Many Butler Alliance members believe the LGBTQIA+ community is one of the most accepting and inclusive communities to exist. Andre Hardy, a sophomore criminology and sociology double major and the 2019-2020 Alliance first-year chair, said that this community is also very diverse.
“Alliance means unity,” Hardy said “We can lift each other up, love each other and support each other but still have our individuality.”
In order to practice the intersectional values they preach, Alliance often partners with other student organizations on campus to make people in a variety of cultures and communities feel included.
“One thing about the LGTBQ+ community that’s different from a lot of other communities is its relationship with intersectionality,” Ford said. “It’s inclusive and accepting to people that are different from them.”
This was not always the case. When Butler Alliance first formed over 20 years ago, the organization had to meet off-campus. There was no Efroymson Diversity Center at the time, and organizations like Alliance did not fit into the mold of acceptable student organizations. Murray recalled that Alliance was a very small organization and there was not a “solid spot” for them on campus during that time.
“It was kind of like a dirty dark secret that was kept out of sight,” Murray said.
With October being LGBT History Month, Murray said it is astonishing to see how far the organization has come in a matter of decades. In describing his personal difficulties with being gay at the time he was in high school, Murray said nobody talked about being gay because society framed it as being unacceptable.
“If someone was [attacked for being queer], it was awful, and people just had to deal with it,” Murray said. “There was no support system in place, so I’m glad there is a support system now.”
Times have definitely changed, but there is still a lack of education surrounding the LGBTQIA+ communities, especially to people who are not in the community or are unaware that the community even exists. LGBTQIA+ education is often not taught at home, in schools or as a part of religious institutions, so there are numerous individuals who are simply unaware of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Hardy said that some people outside of the community believe being LGBTQIA+ is something quite separate from the rest of society, when in reality there are many commonalities.
“A lot of people don’t realize we have a culture, we have a community, we have a history, just like everyone else,” Hardy said.
Along with LGBT History Month, National Coming Out Day is celebrated Oct. 11. Coming out can often be anxiety-inducing, and Alliance members said that this day exists to support and accept everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community for who they are.
Alliance has celebrated National Coming Out Day differently over the years. Murray explained that Alliance has celebrated in the past by setting up a door that people who wanted to come out could walk through and be celebrated on the other side.
“National Coming Out Day is a day to say that it’s okay and there are a group of people on the other side of that door that will accept, help, support, embrace and love you for who you are,” Murray said. “Doesn’t everybody just want to be loved?”
Ford looks at coming out as a way to benefit both individuals and the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, and described coming out as an awakening.
“It’s different to be an out member of the LGBTQ+ community than it is being a closeted person,” Ford said. “Once people make that commitment to live authentically and put their real selves out there, then they are in a better position to give back, have more resources available to them and not have to live in secrecy. I see it as a self-awakening, and we want to share that with as many people as we can.”
The main way Alliance aims to create this inclusive atmosphere is through hosting events. This year looks different due to the pandemic, but there is still a strong sense of community and countless events to attend, according to members like Ford and Hardy.
The organization often has forums where people can go to learn more about LGBTQIA+ communities. Students can expect to see movie nights that are also co-hosted by other organizations in the Diversity Center. One of the most popular events is the annual drag show, which always takes place around Halloween. To stay up to date on all upcoming events and meetings, follow Alliance on Instagram.