By Kate Anderson, Class of 2013
For my Natalie Taylor Scholar senior project I chose to focus in on one of my passions which is working with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning LGBTQ community. As a member of this community I have found it to be quite important to work for the well-being and rights of my community members and had the difficult task of narrowing down my scope to just one thing. Throughout the past year I was given the opportunity to work with LGBT youth through WAGLY, able to intern for this organization, and able to work with the LGBT Action committee on the Babson campus. This opened my eyes to many of the imminent needs, and allowed me to scope my project down to an action or a movement. I knew that the first thing that needs to happen is awareness— before equal rights, before education, before tolerance, before acceptance— people need to become aware that this community exists, that it has needs, and that there are a huge number of allies in support of the community already.
These criteria lad me to two national awareness movements: The NOH8 Campaign, and the Day of Silence. These two movements provide visibility and awareness to the LGBT community, as well as a specific call to action for existing members and allies. My project began as an idea, and I had to make it a reality. The first step was to gather resources and support. I knew that I had the support of my Natalie Taylor Scholar advisors and peers, but I had to ensure that this was something the entire community wanted to participate in. I started talking about it with friends that identified as LGBTQ, as allies, or didn’t even understand the identification. All of them agreed that our campus needed more awareness, and that this could lead to an increased show of support and desire for education. I decided to take this positive feedback and make it happen.
The day of the event would not have been successful, nor would any other part leading up to the event, if it weren’t for the connections and friends that I have made at Babson. The supporters of the Day of Silence included Natalie Taylor Scholars, The Bernon Center, The Lewis Institute, The Glavin Office of Multicultural &International Education, The Undergraduate Dean’s Office, and the Graduate Dean’s Office. 350 t-shirts were passed out to the Undergraduate and Graduate schools. I would estimate about 400 total participated in the event because of the Vocal Supporter stickers that were worn without t-shirts. On April 17, 2013—the day of the event—it was obvious the overwhelming support when just walking through campus. It was powerful to see everyone wearing the t-shirts and the stickers, showing their support of the LGBT community. This sentiment was echoed by those that participated in the discussion that evening. Most felt that this was a great way to start the conversation on campus, but it needs to continue, more needs to be done, and we need to go beyond awareness into education on campus. I was also provided with a touching story from a current student. He expressed that this Day of Silence became a part of his coming out story, that it showed him the support that was available on campus, that it assisted him in feeling comfortable with his identity as a gay men. He said:
The Day of Silence to me was more than a day to draw attention to those within the LGBTQ community who did not have a voice for so long; the Day of Silence was a way for me to express to others what I currently felt. As a gay man who was currently in the process of coming out, the Day of Silence symbolized the feeling I currently embodied but helped to give me the strength to communicate to my friends and family about my self-realization. I was hesitant to “come out” to the Babson community and this event helped show me what a cohesive, supportive, and open-minded community I have as a support system here on campus.
This quote is the exact reason why I did this project, and just knowing his story is enough for me to know that I made an impact on someone, that I did in fact create change.
Posted in Global & Multicultural