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LGBT students work for positive perception at Campus Pride

Attendees of Camp Pride, which took place for the first time this year in Charlotte, gather for a group photo at Johnson C. Smith University.
Attendees of Camp Pride, which took place for the first time this year in Charlotte, gather for a group photo at Johnson C. Smith University.

College leaders of LGBT communities met last week in Charlotte to create strategies for change on their campuses, and many feel much remains to be done after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June.

Campus Pride, a Charlotte-based 14-year-old national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization for college students, started “Camp Pride” nine years ago with a commitment to Southern organizing.

The camp was held July 14-19 at UNC Charlotte and Johnson C. Smith University with representatives from colleges nationwide.

Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride, said this was a year of firsts for Camp Pride – the first national LGBT youth event in Charlotte and the first year a historically black college, JCSU, has participated.

It’s also the first year of the camp since gay marriage was legalized nationally by the Supreme Court.

There’s this kind of separation between the trans struggle and gay marriage because being trans has nothing to do with who you marry.

Jesse Howie, 19, a UNC Charlotte student

“I think there’s an important distinction. The (Supreme Court) decision is long overdue and very welcome,” Windmeyer said. “But there’s much more for LGBTQ young people than marriage equality.”

Jesse Howie, a 19-year-old UNCC student, said the gay marriage ruling could turn into a silencing measure.

“There’s this kind of separation between the trans struggle and gay marriage because being trans has nothing to do with who you marry,” Howie said.

Howie said they hope to bring Trans’port, a transgender support group on campus that allows for a transgender specific space within the LGBT community, back to UNCC’s campus.

Quintin Bolden, a transgender Christian student of color from Lone Star Community College-North Harris in Houston, said he wants to bring a more positive connotation to the LGBT group on campus.

“I want us to be seen as a part of the fabric of our campus’ culture and not just as ... ‘the gay group’ on campus,” he said.

Bolden came to Camp Pride to gain leadership skills to restart an LGBT group on campus.

He said Texas gets a bad rep for being prejudiced, but he thinks it’s just a lack of education and dialogue.

“I do feel like I could stay there my whole life, have a prolific career in the medical center, be respected, be loved, because I’m not growing up in the era of the baby boomer churchgoers,” he said.

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