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Gay African American Students To Hold First National Conference

This is a great precedent, because the visibility of gay black Americans on MLK’s birthday is so meaningful. With burgeoning homophobia in the community, especially in black churches, the ability for these students to gather and talk about the issues that affect them. Coretta Scott King is strongly in favor of gay civil rights and marriage, but her daughter Bernice is not — so even within this family dedicated to racial civil rights, it’s clear that an open and honest discussion about what it is like to be both black and gay needs to occur.

Hopefully, this conference will open the eyes pf some and help to dispel the myths. The irony is that it is being held in Ohio, a state that, last November, passed a hateful, anti-gay state amendment. (

Gay African American university students will hold their first ever national meeting over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

Called the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students of Color National Summit, it will take place at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The conference was organized with the help of the United States Student Association Foundation.

“Over the past decade we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of college student organizations devoted to empowering LGBT students of color said Nicholas Sakurai, organizer of the summit and Director of USSA Foundation’s LGBT Student Empowerment Project. “Now, dozens of colleges across the country have such groups.” The National Summit will include roundtables, skills trainings, and strategic planning sessions to help build spaces that support LGBT students of color on campuses across the country.

“In the often isolated world of LGBT student of color campus activism, this summit is an invaluable opportunity to share strategies for success and work together on the challenges ahead,” said Eddy Morales, U.S. Student Association Vice President.

As a visibly emerging campus community, LGBT students of color face significant barriers to higher education, from being targeted for hate crimes and verbal harassment to the lack of presence in the curriculum, Morales said.

Campus groups for LGBT students of color often provide supportive spaces, conduct educational forums for staff and students, and advocate for policies that promote the recruitment and retention of LGBT students, faculty, and staff of color.

“Change is coming and young LGBT people of color are here to bring it,” said Lilia Williams, one of the lead facilitators for the summit. “We’re tired of facing anti-gay and anti-transgender attitudes within communities of color and sometimes in our own families. We’re tired of watching racism silence our voices in LGBT organizations. We want to see students united, not divided.”

More than 50 students of color from will represent colleges across the country at the January 15-17 event.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding