LGBTQA support skyrockets: Students, faculty speak of progress

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Progressive staff and faculty, alongside student-run centers and organizations have catapulted the Pacific campus into being the most welcoming community for LGBTQA students in its history.

A demographic study conducted in 2012 found a heavy spike in acceptance towards the LGBTQ community.

“I have truly seen Pacific evolve into an affirming community over the years,” said Director for the Center for Gender Equity Martha Rampton.

Junior Olin Blackmore said the faculty and staff drive the accepting community. He said the faculty at Pacific is the most progressive he has ever experienced.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know that I would feel comfortable being real with every professor I have interacted with here. That says a lot,” said Blackmore.

Faculty support is not limited to the professors on campus.

Sophomore Cameron Chow remembered coming out to his swim coach last year. He said that he was surprised at how supportive his coach was and it taught him that the faculty and staff are very aware and caring.

Although support for the LGBTQA community is at an all time high for Pacific, such was not the case for a long time.

Rampton recalled her first year of teaching when a boy came to her office in tears, asking if she knew what it meant to come out. The boy said he felt unsafe and was transferring because of it. Shortly after, a hate crime occurred that was aimed specifically at lesbian students.

In response to the hate crime, students began to rally behind LGBTQA support. Former student Becky Weaver and Rampton founded the Rainbow Coalition and held a rally in response to the crime.

Shortly after, Center for Gender Equity, CGE, was founded. The organization has been actively advocating for LGBTQA for the last 12 years.

Since then, LGBTQA advocacy has become a big part of campus culture. Rampton said out of all of the events CGE hosts, the events that pertain to LGBTQA issues are the most highly attended.

She said out of the 12 years CGE has supported the LGBTQ community, no one has complained or tried to gay bash at an event.

“Of course there will always be homophobic people on campus,” Rampton said, “but they don’t really have a voice here.”

However, there is still a lot of room to grow for Pacific.

Blackmore remembered an openly gay friend being bullied at a dance last year for dancing with someone of the same sex.

“It’s alarming and embarrassing,” said Blackmore.

He said the biggest issue at Pacific is that the groups are very separated and there isn’t much interaction between them. He said if a particular friend group is not supportive it could feel very lonely.

“My freshman year I had some really unaccepting roommates and my friend group consisted of them and some other people. I never felt comfortable enough to come out to my friends,” Blackmore said. “It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I became okay with myself.

When CGE put on a winter play and Blackmore was encouraged to get involved and he met the core group that he is with now. He said meeting those people was imperative for him.

Although there is a lot of work left to be done, Chow said he really appreciates how being gay is not made a dramatic issue at Pacific.

Chow came to Pacific with a goal to be as honest with himself as possible because he didn’t want to live in fear anymore. He said he is very thankful to have never encountered any hate and just be seen as a person, not a gay person.

“I really like that my friends don’t make a big deal out of it,” Chow said. “People don’t see who you like as an issue. It’s about who you are and the way you treat people, which is nice.”

He said he sees no point in having to overtly classify as LGBTQA.

“At Pacific there isn’t a need to separate the LBGTQA community and the Pacific community,” Chow concluded. “We aren’t the LGBTQA people. We are just the people of Pacific, like everyone else.”


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