South Welcomes LGBTQ+ Students

By: Keylee Fillingim | Contributing Writer

Dozens of students gathered at the Student Center for the LGBTQ+ Welcome Reception last Thursday. A few words from faculty, organizations, and student government association’s president, Sahilee Waitman were given to inform students about resources on campus and allies for the LGBTQ+ community.

Rainbow cake, cookies and refreshments were offered to the guests following speeches. Freshman and upperclassmen gathered together to show the support of their friends and community.

“I saw it on the Week of Welcome page. My roommate is LGBT so I thought I would come here and support her,” said freshman Celia Schnuettgen.

A few staff shared their coming out stories.

Franklin Trimm shared that he came out at 31-years-old to his boss. Trimm was 9 years in at his now 28 years at South Alabama, before he came out to his chairman.

“He could fire me in a heartbeat at that point and time… simply because I was gay,” said Trim, “He was a good man, and as you can see I am still here a number of years later.”

Rebecca Reed, 18, shared she is aware of some of the resources on campus for LGBTQ+ but not all of them. Multiple organizations set up around the room as allies and to provide resources on campus for students.

“I’m LGBT myself,” said 18-year-old freshman Rebecca Reed, “I want to help out with making the community better understand what LGBT people go through, and I just want to show my support.”

One organization that caught guests’ eyes was South Alabama’s student organization Spectrum. Spectrum is a safe “family-type” environment for queer students who may or may not be accepted.

“We provide educational programming in order to raise awareness in the general community,” said Roe Van Derwood, President of Spectrum, “ I want to make sure there is a greater awareness of what people identify as and what that really means.”

Krista Harrell, Associate Dean and Title IX coordinator, shared the importance to be vocal and visible.

“I want to see what queer nirvana looks like,” said Harrell, “it is going to take all of us.” Harrell shared ways to be more than an ally, and how to go beyond that to create more safe faces on campus.

The University welcomes the LGBTQ+ community during its Week of Welcome. South Alabama wants to be allies for the LGBTQ+ community and continues to show its support in hopes to gain larger support for the community.