Day one of Associated Students, Inc.’s Cultural Welcomes at the Beach kicked off Wednesday as LGBTQIA+ organizations addressed anti-Blackness within the community and the importance for intersectionality.
Before the introduction of LGBTQIA+ clubs and organizations, representatives from the Queer and Allies club and Counseling and Psychology Services administrators introduced themselves and led the group in a land acknowledgement recognizing the ancestral site of Puvungna, before mentioning the Scholar Strike, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black Trans Lives movement.
Host of the session and third-year political science major, Greg Figueroa, discussed the impact the Black community has on the LGBTQIA+ community. He explained that as a gay man during these times of injustice, it is important to be more than just an ally, but an advocate for the community.
“The system and the institution doesn’t allow for conversations like this to happen,” Figueroa said. “We must actively call out oppression and use our privilege to support those not afforded the same advantages.”
The session continued to center around the lives of Black individuals and their contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community. Students suggested incorporating discussions about anti-Blackness in queer studies to further ethnic studies.
In the breakout session, second-year English major Robin Salem explained their hope that intersectionality is talked about more and that anti-Blackness is brought into discussion spaces.
“It is very important to find your community and search around those who are alike,” Salem said. “When thinking about LGBTQ+ history, it was always alienating, and having your community is very important.”
Clubs and organizations such as Queers and Allies and Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for the LGBTQIA+ community, were featured in the virtual event with 74 students in attendance, the majority being first-time freshmen and transfer students looking to get involved.
Throughout the session, students participated in ice-breakers to create a safe space to share with one another.
Students expressed their worries about procrastination, online classes and their mental health.
They were also asked what they are excited about for the school year, and many answered that they hoped to meet new people, pass their classes and return to campus.
Before the event ended, students like Emily Fitzpatrick, a first-year pre-biology major, shared why they are proud to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“This community is more and more accepting and supportive in society in a way,” Fitzpatrick said. “During Pride month, it was never just about the community or selfishness. [It] included [the] Black Lives Matter movement.”
This article was corrected on Sept. 14 at 2:00 p.m. to better identify members of the organization and respect the wishes of the club’s leadership.