Operating in Unity and Truth is a new student organization at Florida A&M University.
The group was established earlier in the semester and aims to support those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexuality.
Members of the organization say they founded O.U.T with the hopes of educating and reaching out to students about alternative lifestyles.
JaNiece Ford, 19, is one of the co-presidents of O.U.T. Ford, a junior business administration student from Washington, said, “It was really hard to get members to sign up and put their name on the charter.”
Many students who are aware of this organization said they chose not to join because they think the club is trying to force people to declare their sexual preference.
Ford denounces the idea that the group has hidden motives.
She ensures potential members that O.U.T is a “safe haven for those who are unsure of their sexuality.” The group also gives students an opportunity to be around others who share similar interests. In addition to the social aspect, the organization participates in community service and political events.
O.U.T is a part of a national organization called the Human Rights Campaign. This program connects Historically Black Colleges and Universities with other schools across the nation.
“I am proud of the organization and excited about what they are trying to do,” said Brittany Johnson, 22. Johnson, a senior theater performance student from Miami, was around when the idea of the club was conceived. Johnson said one of the greatest benefits of being in the organization is the networking between organizations and meeting different groups of people.
Johnson said before joining O.U.T, she was “hungry for a group for the black gay community” because there were no organizations or groups around to represent her.
Members say the group is diverse in that it consists of members from both FAMU and Florida State University and has members of various backgrounds and ethnicities. The organization aims to be all-inclusive.
Johnson stresses that the purpose of the organization is to educate people about human rights and the homosexual lifestyle.
The group currently has a rotating roster of approximately 30 members, with ages ranging from the teens to the late 20s.
Current members look for prospective members whom they suspect have alternative lifestyles or misunderstand homosexuality. They also encourage heterosexuals to participate in the group to learn more about it.
As a service, members of the organization mentor high school students who are unable to cope with their lifestyle.
Cassandra Sistrunk, a sophomore business administration student from Atlanta said, “It is nice that they are trying to get together as one and talk about different stuff.”
Sistrunk, 19, said she thinks the formation of this group is a great idea. She said it allows them to form in unity since they are minorities on campus.