By Jillian Mehta, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor
On Tuesday, April 7, Campus Speaks held a Zoom event for LGBTQ students and allies called “Queering in Quarantine: Support and Allyship for LGBTQ community.”
Tara Fuller, the host of the event, came up with the idea when the stay-at-home orders started.
“I thought how can I help and contribute, thinking about my experience and the coming out process, I wanted to help and be there for anyone who has to go home and face where some damage might have been done or people who don’t accept you,” she said.
Fuller wanted to create a virtual community to help LGBTQ students who may be going through a tough time, so she reached out to Campus Speaks, a service that helps connect guest lecturers to college campuses.
“I really asked myself what do LGBTQ folks need to hear right now so I just started making a list of things,” she said.
The event started with an open chat feature where everyone was invited to introduce themselves and say where they are from and what their preferred pronouns are. Participants from around the country participated, including people from Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington and Connecticut.
The livestream started with Fuller introducing herself and asking the audience, “What do LGBTQ individuals need to hear right now?” She opened the question up via menti.com and shared the results with the livestream. Responses such as family, community support, confidence and connection were the most popular.
The event was broken down into four sections: “You Matter,” “You’re Deserving,” “You Belong,” and “Trust Yourself.” Each section was created as a wellness approach to LGBTQ allyship and inclusion.
“Those sections were just things people might need to hear right now.” Fuller said.
In the first section, “You Matter,” Fuller asked the group to look inward and reflect on how they are feeling. She also encouraged creativity and said, “Everyone has creativity, it is within us but somewhere it gets lost, we just have to find it again.”
Fuller also spoke on the importance of learning LGBTQ history, as well as unlearning the idea of heteronormativity—the belief that heterosexual romance and sexual attraction is the only normal sexual orientation. She closed this section speaking on educating or sharing the history of each attendee’s community with friends and family or even a pet.
The second section, “You’re Deserving,” revolved around the idea of how LGBTQ members receive the space and time that people give them and how they can speak up.
“We are not here to make others comfortable,” Fuller said, and encouraged the audience to raise awareness, even if it’s in small ways like wearing a rainbow sticker.
“It still gives people more of an option to support you,” she said.
While Fuller understood that not everyone will be accepting, she reminded community members of an affirmation to remember, “I am deserving of your respect and dignity.”
In the third section, “You Belong,” Fuller spoke on representation of all LGBTQ identities in the media, by politicians and athletes, and regular acquaintances. She opened up the discussion and invited all the stream members to a shared google document where they could add art forms that have representation of the LGBTQ community, such as tv shows and books. She reminded everyone of the importance of community and allies, and encouraged mentorship with someone in the community that they may look up to.
The last section, “Trust Yourself,” came from a wellness perspective and asked members how they can be the most well within themselves and to be true to who they are. She stressed the importance of understanding what a person wants and who they want to matter to. She wrapped this section up by asking the audience, “What does allyship mean to you?” The most popular responses being support, safety, pride, unity, and feeling normal.
Fuller expressed the importance of allies and said the best way to support your LGBTQ friend is to just check in and be there. Sending helpful quotes, funny video clips, or anything else they might enjoy could help them during a difficult time, but warned against possibly being overbearing.
At the end of the session, Fuller shared support tools in which she wrote some affirmations for everyone to meditate, journal and reflect, reminding everyone they have support.