As the city celebrates Tallahassee Urban Pride week, a week dedicated to honoring residents who made positive impacts for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, a FAMU organization held events to commemorate strides made.
“It’s like having black history month,” said Meagan Johnson, a 22-year-old agricultural business student from Miami. “It honors what we do. This commemorates those who were active in the fight for support.”
Operating in Unity and Truth, or O.U.T., an organization geared toward LGBT students at FAMU, hosted various events this week to promote awareness for both the homosexual and heterosexual students.
“Through these events – events that were opened to both homosexual and heterosexual students – we held this week, we wanted to enlighten the homosexual community that you don’t have to hide or just come out at night,” said Johnson, co-president of O.U.T. “There are other outlets other than the nightlife. We are also hoping to show other people that we are not just a partying community.”
LGBT students said they believe it is imperative that society recognizes the LGBT community because of the political power that the heterosexual community has to affect the personal lives of the LGBT community.
“We are a part of the African-American community whether they like it or not,” said Shannon Pressey, 23. “We are the same as everyone else.”
O.U.T. began celebrating Tallahassee Urban Pride week with a seminar with Bishop Carlton Pearson titled, “Talk bout it,” about the collision of spirituality and sexuality.
The organization wanted this event to address the notion some hold that black churches are full of homosexuals yet no one really talks about it.
“Wednesday’s event was selected because no matter what people want to believe, gay doesn’t mean anti-religion,” said Adah Pittman-Delancey, a Florida State alumnus and co-planner of the weekly events through Colour Cascades promotional company. “It seems as long as the music ministry is flourishing and the gay individuals keep their lifestyles to themselves, gays have always had a place in church. We wanted to provide a place to share stories and understand our religious brethrens’ need to dismiss, and at times, condemn us.”
Johnson said the turnout for the first official event held for O.U.T., founded on FAMU’s campus last semester, was a pleasant surprise.
“The first event was very successful,” Johnson said. “We are just glad that we could enlighten both the homosexual and heterosexual communities on issues that need to be addressed.”
Thursday’s event involved a viewing of movie clippings about homosexuality and some myths that surround the community.
“We felt like it would be a nice way for individuals to interact and to create an atmosphere where students will indulge in meaningful conversation about homosexuality,” said Miami native Pittman-Delancey, 23.
Friday’s event is a pride jump-off party that will be held at Brothers.
“This event is a celebration,” said Pittman-Delancey. “We like to party just like everyone else. This is a way for everyone to have a good time.”
Saturday from 1-2:30 p.m., O.U.T. will host an event called, “Rodney Chester Speaks” where Chester, an actor on a gay sitcom called Noah’s Arc, will discuss his role in the show as well as homosexuality from a black male perspective.
“This event was developed with the black gay man in mind,” said Pittman-Delancey. “Often times, it is harder for black men to embrace their sexuality, and the objective for this event is to provide a forum for black gay men to express their opinions and personal stories,” Pittman-Delancey said.
From 3-4 p.m. Chester will discuss his talent agency, Trio Talent Agency. Pittman-Delancey emphasized to students that both portions are not strictly for the gay community.
“We have separated the portions as a way to include individuals that want to know about the entertainment industry and how to break in without being required to listen to the discussion regarding homosexuality,” Pittman-Delancey said.
O.U.T. will wrap up Saturday with a party at H20. Students expected to be in attendance said they are looking forward to mingling and enjoying the night.
“It’s a perfect moment to support the week as a whole and is a great way to just celebrate everything,” Pressey said.
O.U.T. will end the week with a picnic that hopes to bring everyone together at Jack McLean Park.
“O.U.T. has four E’s – educate, enlighten, envelope and enrich – that we implement,” said co-president JaNice Ford, a 20-year-old third-year MBA student from Washington. “We want people to make educated decisions about how they feel toward the LGBT community. And if they are already in the community, how they feel about themselves and their image as a whole.”
O.U.T. has also been involved in community service. Projects include sponsoring children whose parents have either died from or were diagnosed with AIDS and mentoring school-aged children, with an emphasis on those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lifestyle.
Any student, whether heterosexual or homosexual is welcomed into O.U.T., an organization associated with LGBTQQA, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer questioning and allies].
For more information concerning O.U.T. students are encouraged to contact FAMU_lgbt@yahoo.com.