The Guilfordian

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Second annual LGBTQQA symposium held on campus

“Guilford is known for being the go-to-class-without-shoes, granola-eating liberal institution,” said senior and Lead Student Organizer Beatrice Franklin while sipping a Coke. She is in desperate need of caffeine after preparing all day for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Allies Symposium in the Bayard Rustin Community Center.

“We have the core values that we like to talk about … but sometimes because of that, we get this idea that we don’t have to address issues of racism or sexism or homophobia, and that’s a problem,” said Franklin.

These issues were among the many topics covered at the second annual LGBTQQA Symposium held April 27, sponsored by the Bayard Rustin Center.

The event addressed the roles the LGBTQQA community has in social justice movements and how these movements are important for liberation.

“(Queer liberation) helps us understand our masculinity, our femininity and what those words actually mean, and what they don’t (mean), because we are given too much of a definition,” said Staphon Snelling, A&T University senior and Queer and Christianity panel member. “I don’t think there is a real way to define those words.”

“50 Years and Still Marching” was the symposium’s theme, commemorating the 50th anniversary of both the March on Washington, held August 28, 1963, the integration of Guilford College. The event honored Lead March Organizer and gay Quaker civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.

The aim of the symposium was to uphold Bayard Rustin’s practices of breaking walls of class, gender, sexuality, race, ability and any other obstacles.

“Not just Guilford, but pretty much everybody has a problem of starting to be very single-issued,” said Associate Professor of Political Science Maria Rosales. “Bayard Rustin and the Bayard Rustin Center really emphasize that people have really complex identities, and that you really need to keep that in mind.”

At the event one could choose workshops covering various topics including sex, health and healing, immigration, race, faith and more.

“When you’re looking at the issue of queerness, you also look at the issues of race, gender and class,” said Franklin. “We have to talk about those things in order to get queer liberation.

“This symposium is about liberation and not just queer liberation. Through queer liberation we liberate everybody. It liberates us as a community, and I’m hoping that people see queer liberation just as that.”

Through the learning of history and discussion across these boundaries, the symposium worked to transform how we think about community.

“The symposium has a very clear intersectional analysis that is important (to be) aware of in thinking about movement building as an LGBTQQA community,” said Tiffany Holland ‘97.

Striving for improvement, the symposium reached out to youth, telling them that the future is in their hands.

“I remember history being told as these huge untouchable icons,” said Parker Hurley, LGBTQQA Coordinator. “We don’t really need another of those people. What we need is individual students to begin to see themselves as capable leaders and change agents.”

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