As the excitement surrounding Valentine’s day begins to simmer down among the students of Florida A&M University, the atmosphere that surrounds the season of love still lingers in the air for the campus couples who neglect the notion of limiting the celebration to just one day.
Among these couples, include the understated but prominent members of the LGBTQ community, who continue to pursue romance despite discouragement that may lurk in the shadows of discrimination.
Social work major and president of LGBTQ+ centered organization Spectrum, Timothy Griffin Jr said there is still a long way to go before the community is completely embraced.
“I feel like there is a great divide with the acceptance of the community on the campus, “Griffin explained. “Either you’re completely gay and everybody knows and you’re kind of deemed as that, or you’re gay but you’re not open to the public, or you’re trying to conform to heteronormative standards.
Regardless of the conflicting approaches settling into life as a member of the LGBTQ community on FAMU’s campus, the attitudes surrounding pursuing love have not ceased and remained as positive as possible.
Criminal justice graduate student Teron Laidler and his partner are among a rare sight to see on campus. A male same-sex couple who not only don’t mind breaking the barriers of representation on FAMU’s campus but who also remain unapologetic for the relationship they formed.
“I haven’t had any issues with [my relationship] I think because my sexuality does not define me. We’re both openly gay and we can stand in the paint and hold our own,” Laidler said. “A lot of gay people may not necessarily have that, or they may not be ready to take that on. But, me and my partner are both openly gay, we’ll tell anybody we’re openly gay and we can stand in the paint with the best of them.”
Laider went on to encourage everyone to be confident no matter whom he or she love.
“There’s nothing wrong with being openly gay and being yourself because as long as you’re confident in who you are, anything can be achieved,” Laidler encouraged.
Even if this philosophy is common among the community at FAMU, the general same-sex couples that continue to be spotted are the ones among the female population. Griffin admitted it was a lot more common to see lesbian couples at the Spectrum meetings than it would be to see gay male couples.
Information Technology major Destiny King has noticed the stark difference between male and female couples.
“The experience for gay men is drastically different (at FAMU) compared to females,” King expressed. “I mean, how many gay male couples have you seen around?”
Despite the odds seemingly stacked against them, these students still, feel comfortable on campus displaying their affection for their partners or pursuing new ones.
“I’m very comfortable pursuing people on campus,” King continued. “I think FAMU is 99% accepting if it suits them…we’ve actually never been treated badly by anyone on the hill.”
As the community continues to battle around the world for equal rights, equal opportunities for representation and general social acceptance, organizations like Spectrum are continuing to take steps to encourage more LGBTQ couples to feel comfortable among FAMU’s consensus.