Words by Sayra Ilyas
Graphics by Aspasia Celia Tsampas
The LGBTQ+ movement has made some major strides over the years. Notably, the biggest achievement comes at the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States in 2015. This landmark Supreme Court decision, however, should not deter from additional progress that still needs to be made in regards to discriminatory practices such as bullying, being denied a job, and even healthcare simply on the basis of how one chooses to identify themselves.
Amnesty International, a nonprofit organization focused on human rights advocacy, came out with a statistic that between October 2017 and September 2018, violence against the LGBTQ+ community claimed the lives of 369 individuals. Hostility towards the community has only been made worse by the current Trump Administration which has opposed the legislation of the Equality Act, a proposed bill that would protect the civil rights of those who identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ+ community. At least 20 states have enacted their own LQBTQ+ protections against discrimination, however, there is no sign of progress to be made at the national level.
In view of the bullying and microaggressions faced by the LGBTQ+ community, there has been a growing presence of “safe spaces”. A safe space is essentially an environment in which marginalized individuals are able to come together and celebrate what society otherwise labels as “deviance”. The City College of New York (CCNY) has its very own safe space located in NAC 1/101B, right outside of the Ballroom. The area is run by the LGBTQIA+ Open Alliance, a club at CCNY that is devoted to providing support for LGBT+ students as well as educating CUNY students about the LGBT+ community. Advocates have proposed that education about the LGBTQ+ community, presented from an anti-bias lens, can help foster a positive outlook and actually reduce discrimination.
The leaders of the LGBTQIA+ Open Alliance, Daria and Wintress, were able to provide some additional insight regarding the club and its goals. First and foremost, the club is devoted to “providing resources and establishing support for LGBT+ students” at CCNY. The club serves as a safe haven, allowing members to freely express themselves and build a community, ultimately providing a safety net. The club was “born largely from necessity” due to the unfortunate reality that despite the progress that has already been made, it is still a challenge for individuals to come out for fear of the social repercussions they may endure.
LGBTQIA+ Open Alliance is now working to incorporate the rest of the CCNY campus community to join in on their events, hoping to strengthen the LGBT+ movement on campus. CCNY is known to be, and often prides itself, as one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. The club hopes to build on that diversity by encouraging the “social, educational, and cultural interactions amongst the members within our community”.