A determined Bell brings Spectrum back to life

Spectrum LGBTQ + Pride Union Members.
Photo courtesy: Spectrum LGBTQ + Pride Union

Florida A&M University is remarkably diverse in culture, opportunities and style. But the LGBTQIA+ community is about to shine brightly at FAMU. Spectrum LGBTQ + Pride Union was once an organization that stopped being active due to COVID-19. No one took that step to bring it back to on-campus life, but Akiva Cenai Bell, a junior, was determined to change that.

Bell makes related content on her YouTube channel for many ranges of viewers. But one day, a comment posted under one of her videos made it a mission for her to bring back LGBTQ+ awareness on FAMU’s campus.

“One of my subscribers commented, ‘I would love to come to FAMU, but I’m gay.’ At that moment, I got super emotional because there should be an organization for everybody to feel accepted and welcomed,” Bell said.

Bell revised Spectrum and is now the president of the organization. Having to start with a new adviser and executive board for the organization, Bell said it was not an easy decision. She appointed a team she could trust and rely on to ensure the organization wouldn’t go back to being non-existent.

“It was hard knowing a lot of people and who to trust with the org, but I decided on a team, and once that was solidified, we hit the floor running,” said Bell.

Former King of Orange and Green Chazriq Clarke is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and is not afraid to let it be known. Clarke has always brought a pop of color to a gray and black room.

Wanting to join FAMU Spectrum when first arriving on the hill, Clarke wanted to reach out and spread awareness around campus. Unfortunately, the organization ceased to exist due to COVID-19.

“I’m excited that FAMU Spectrum is starting back up is how they will bring more knowledge and perceptive on campus,” Clarke said.

He was being open about his sexuality while on the Royal Court and it was a challenge for the former KOG himself. Sometimes he had to censor his true self due to the backlash he would receive from FAMU.

“Even with me doing things outside of my title and living in my truth, it would come back as oh I’m the KOG and that’s a bad look,” said Clarke.

Clarke says that being on the court and open was a learning experience and Spectrum is going to give the university an opportunity to grow and educate staff and students about the LGBTQ community.

Spectrum partakes in many community service projects, especially with AIDS-structured AIDS- and FAMU games. Spectrum LGBTQ + Pride Union has many ideas and possibilities for next semester and the upcoming years of being a registered organization on campus.