UMW News Bureau
Montana Western students may have been greeted by faces of Pink, Neil Patrick Harris, or Lance Bass on their way to class last week. Those three celebrities were only a few examples of people chosen by LAMBDA Alliance to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community for National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, at UMW.
To celebrate, LAMBDA Alliance, Montana Western’s LGBT club, hosted a Coming Out reading on Oct. 8. Six people shared stories or poems about coming out at Thursday’s reading.
“It’s important to share your stories so you can identify with others, which brings you closer to them,” explains LAMBDA Alliance president Rebecca Davis. “Everyone needs to know they’re not alone.”
After the reading, LAMBDA Alliance teamed up with Montana Western Campus Corps to stake signs around campus. Each sign featured a different famous person who is of the LGBT community, including world leaders, actors, musicians, writers, and athletes. Davis says they wanted to include a variety of different people to challenge the stereotypes of who gay people are.
“There are people who think there are not athletes who are gay or lesbian,” explains Davis. “It makes you stop and think about those stereotypes.”
The signs also raised awareness in the Montana Western community about LAMBDA Alliance’s active involvement on campus.
“We staked the signs to make our presence here known, to bring back the idea that not everyone on this campus is straight,” explains Davis.
The group’s goal was receive greater acceptance on campus by raising awareness of their presence.
“We feel like our presence needs to be known,” says Davis. “We face a lot of discrimination – not just in the world or in government, but also on this campus.”
The efforts toward acceptance were soon evident when a student tore down one of the signs. Another student, Bernice Wigen, observed the vandalism and confronted the other student.
“Bernice didn’t just stand by and watch what was happening,” explains Davis. “She stood up and said something. LAMBDA is important, but it’s good to see straight people stand up for queer rights. It sets a good example of how we need to be humans to each other.”
The help LAMBDA received from Campus Corps is another testament to the changing mindset of the Montana Western campus.
Davis says LAMBDA Alliance will continue to raise awareness on campus, and the group will continue to be a source of acceptance.
“LAMBDA is here to provide a safe place for people who are queer and straight, so there is someone you can be with and talk to without feeling endangered,” Davis explains. “We are a source of good friends and good people.”
LAMBDA Alliance meets in the student lounge across from Stageline Thursday evenings at 6 p.m.
The University of Montana Western has launched a national search for the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs position.