Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Panelist discuss ways to create a more united society

Four panelists came together Thursday, Sept. 15 to discuss the possible techniques for creating a coalition of race, gender and sexual orientation. The panel was initiated by the UMass Amherst Stonewall Center.

The discussion, titled “Building a Community in a Divide and Conquer Culture,” focused on the importance of coalition building and not discriminating against anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The panel was introduced and mediated by Speakers Bureau Coordinator Maru Gonzalez, and consisted of Stonewall Center President Genny Beemyn, educator and published author Andrea Dre Domingue, UMass senior and SGA president Yevin Roh, and Director of Civil Liberties and Public Policy program at Hampshire College Mia Sullivan.

The focus of the discussion was on the intersections between race, gender and sexual orientation.

Beemyn said that in the past, the diversity office only considered ‘diversity’ an issue of race, when it should have also included “gender identity and sexual orientation.”

For example, during the discussion panelists considered the intersections between sexuality and race. Taken from a 2008 issue of The Advocate, a magazine the specializes in LGBT topics, Gonzalez asked the panel, “Is gay the new black?”

Beemyn called that statement “offensive and racist.”

A self-defined “LGBT woman of color,” Domingue said “It implies that [being gay] is trendy,” which she does not believe it is, as homosexuality has always existed.

Domingue also spoke about her past experiences with bullying and how she was and is a voice for both her sexuality and her race, something that was challenging and emotional.

Domingue is currently working on her Ed.D. in social justice education at UMass. Before coming to UMass she worked as the Assistant Director for New York University’s office of LGBT Student Services.

Roh talked about having been raised by a single, immigrant mother who worked her way through school. He referred to his childhood, during which he knew little about gender roles and was mistreated in school for his “Corean” heritage. (Roh spells “Korean” with a C because that was the way it was spelled before it was changed by the Japanese to alphabetize it after Japan during the Olympics.)

Sullivan spoke about Women’s health issues such as abortion and how the availability of safe, clean clinics for women relies heavily on socioeconomic status. She told a story about an abortion clinic in Philadelphia that was raided by the police, who found none of the doctors there were licensed. Women attended this clinic because they could not afford safe, clean abortions.

After the Panel discussion was over, Roh said, “I hope they feel like change is possible.”

“Move outside of your comfort zone,” said Beemyn during the discussion, who later added, “I hope people got some good ideas about how to get involved and be engaged in community building and get inspired to do that kind of work.”

The Panel was sponsored by The Stonewall Center, The Women of Color Leadership Network, The Everywoman’s Center and the Center for Multicultural Advancement & Student Success.

Steffi Porter can be reached at [email protected].


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