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inside 25 Messages for and from Washington

When thousands took to the streets of our nation’s capital this past October, their message was loud and direct. The National Equality March signaled this generation’s unwillingness to stay idle any longer. (Photo by Rachel Kilroy.)


16How to keep loving

seeking 22Still a more perfect union

Coming out is an experience that can impact an entire family. Retired Temple Israel Rabbi David Horowitz, who is also the vice president of the national chapter of PFLAG, shares tips on how everyone can work to keep your family united.

ANALYSIS Despite the passing of a national anti-hate crimes law, LGBT Americans continue to face increasingly significant setbacks. The solution? It may be time to rethink strategies in the fight for equal rights.

the lens 18Retraining on diversity education

38Rebel without a cause 2.0

Companies across the country are learning the importance and benefits of diversity training in the workplace. Learn how Kent State’s Residence Services prepares its employees to best serve LGBT students particular needs.

Inspired by the 1955 classic film, we’ve put together a collection of updated looks featuring leather jackets, skinny jeans and plaid that make it possible for anyone to channel his or her modern James Dean or Natalie Wood.



32 Another front for the equality battle: College athletics

Sometimes change is happening right underneath our eyes, where many least expect it. That’s what we found out when we talked to some Kent State students about their experiences as out and open student athletes. Cover photo by Daniel R. Doherty Winter 2009-10 FUSION 1

inside 4



Our recommendations for a gay day trip to our state’s capital.

Behind the scenes Kent’s finest libations Six

Columbus’ Short North

drinks you’ll only find at local bars and the stories behind them.



We sit down with gender and sexuality activist Jac Stringer.

Nutritional facts Ever wonder

how much damage your actually doing to your body on Thirsty Thursday? Find out.

Thoughts from a Midwest Genderqueer


Yes, your roommate can be your boyfriend or girlfriend

Residence Services’ policies can’t stop same-sex couples from living together.


Diversity is a pillar of excellence

An exclusive column by Alfreda Brown, Kent State vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.



Advocates in administration

Two KSU officials share how their being open about their sexuality shapes their experience here at the university.


Different directions, but ideas that resonate

Read about plays made into movies that still have impact today.



Robert Checkal, Christopher Clevenger, Kristina Deckert, Kristine Gill, Kelsey Henninger, Simon Husted, Kelly Pickerel, Brittany Moseley, Jinae West PHOTOGRAPHERS

Rachel Kilroy, Sam Twarek


Caitlin Saniga, Christina Stavale, Jackie Valley Kate Penrod DESIGNER THATGAYMAGAZINE.COM



Dear Carol, I’m now a proud fag hag

One columnist shares the early root of her never-ending affection for all things gay.


Kim Brown, Theresa Bruskin, Zachary Culler, Katelynd Jarvis


Bethany English, Katie Kuczek, Sanket Patel Tami Bongiorni ADVERTISING MANAGER Lori Cantor BUSINESS MANAGER


Church? ... Yes, actually.


At the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, they have faith in a lot of things, yourself being the foremost.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, fusion is “a merging of diverse, distinct or separate elements into a unified whole.” Fusion magazine addresses sexual minority issues within the general university population. The magazine strives to unify people of different backgrounds through education and awareness.


Donations can be sent to the address below, payable to Fusion magazine. Also, subscriptions are available for $10/year (two issues). Visit for more information.


48 Last thought “Music is my life, and I happen to be gay.” — Curtis Tate, Winslow keyboardist (Photo by Leslie Katzenmeyer.)

2 FUSION Winter 2009-10


331 Franklin Hall Kent State University Kent, OH 44242 Phone: 330.672.2586 Fax: 330.672.4880 SPECIAL THANKS

Fusion magazine thanks the Gay Community Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation for its continual financial support.






ou have no idea how many of my friends think I’m gay now. Even my girlfriend is beginning to wonder. It’s OK though. I kind of expected it when I knew I was going to be Fusion’s managing

editor. And besides, I haven’t worked for this magazine for the last three semesters because I’m gay and have a deeply held stake in LGBT issues — I just care about equality. I’ve contributed stories and edited them for so long because I love the human interest in the next 40-some pages. I love reading people’s stories — the woman who gives her time to help prevent the spread of HIV and sexual education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, the Kent State women’s rugby team and its fostering acceptance, the man who shares his sex-change story for the whole country on MTV. There are people all around us doing incredible things, and Fusion strives to share their stories. That’s what good journalism is all about, right? Sure, we seek to uphold our American democracy by informing the electorate and keeping the government of and by the people. But there’s more than that. Journalism is a means for documenting our daily experience — our collective daily experience. It’s a common thread that reminds us of our shared humanity. So if Fusion does anything to bring you closer to someone else’s life and inspires your notion of solidarity, then this issue has done its job. — Ben Wolford

4 FUSION Winter 2009-10

FUSION WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU Send us your comments in a letter or online at Send letters to Fusion, 205 Franklin Hall, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44240; fax to 330-6724880; or e-mail us at Look for your response in our spring issue.

s we wrap up this winter edition, I keep thinking back to glass ceilings. It’s the notion of not being able to tell how far the limits of the equal rights we presently have can be pushed and overcome. But this is the fourth issue of Fusion I’ve had the honor of delivering, and after scanning them all, the glass ceiling is getting thinner, lower and harder to see. As we herald the second decade of the 21st century, the ambiguous barrier society erects to refuse us LGBT people our rights is increasingly, well, Plexiglas. In some spots, it’s inches thick. In Maine or New York, everyone expected same-sex marriage to pass easily this past fall. But there the invisible wall went up again, and it wasn’t clear until after the votes, much as it wasn’t clear in 2004 when Ohio passed Issue 1 banning same-sex marriage, how much harder we’re going to have to fight. In others, it’s already cracking. In this issue, those we speak to explain how they’re breaking through, how being open about who they are is a non-issue and how the world is accepting them for who they are — straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, whatever. This past October, thousands took to the streets of our nation’s capital in an effort to bulldoze preconceptions, misconceptions and the ignorance in-between. For the first time in this generation’s memory, walls became and keep becoming mirrors. And while I hope you see reflections growing stronger, we must keep pushing until, no matter the image, all people are equal and united. So go ahead, use this issue of Fusion and hammer away. — Adam Griffiths FUSION MAGAZINE’S ONLINE HOME IS YOUR DAILY SOURCE OF LOCAL AND NATIONAL LGBT NEWS AND FEATURES

^ ^

Gay and working at Kent State >> Brian Thornton shares his thoughts on being open about his sexuality and working for university advancement.

Scholarships for LGBT students >> Log on now to find information and deadlines for local and national scholarships.

& the day’s latest local and national LGBT news.

Ted Trimm’s Real Life

>> You saw him last semester on MTV’s documentary series, “True Life.” Now, pick up where the episode left off, and find out what’s new with Trimm as he continues his transition from a woman to a man. (Photo, above, by Rachel Kilroy) From Washington, D.C. >> We went to the nation’s capital for the National Equality March last October. Find video and photos of the event.

Be part of the discussion. Follow us at thatgaymagazine

Like, share and comment at

Winter 2010 FUSION XX


The Mongolian Motherf@&#er

at the Water Street Tavern


The Incredible Hulk at The Loft


The Cherry Tootsie-Pop at the Brewhouse

Kent’s finest libations Kent’s bars may not seem like anything special, but many of

them have drinks you can’t find anywhere else. Some are popular, and some not many have even heard of, but all of them will get you a sufficient amount of drunk. — Kristina Deckert

6 FUSION Winter 2009-10

1 What’s in it? Vodka, gin, rum, Southern Comfort, 151-proof rum, amaretto, triple sec, melon liquor, Peach Schnapps, grenadine, orange juice and cranberry juice.

History The owner claims Genghis Khan wanted to keep his soldiers in good spirits as they fought, so he created the drink .

Tastes like Considering there’s every type of alcohol on the planet in this drink, it tastes surprisingly like an orange-cranberry smoothie.

Photographs by Sam Twarek




Short North Jac Stringer Alfreda Brown Silver screen Just north of our state capital, one neighborhood offers a range of fun and LGBT-friendly dining, shopping and entertainment choices.

9 10 12 14 A self-proclaimed genderqueer who’s becoming one of the leading gender and sexuality educators in the Midwest.

Kent State’s newest top administrator shares a personal experience and her views on improving diversity here.

Four plays that became movies show how times have changed but also reveal that many themes of late still resonate today.


The Naughty Schoolgirl


The Black and Blue


The Futher Mucker

at the Venice Café

at Mugs

at Ray’s Place






What’s in it?

What’s in it?

What’s in it?

What’s in it?

What’s in it?

Black Haus, Blue Curacao, Mug Red Fuel and Red Bull. Drop-shot style drink.

Chocolate vodka, grenadine and Red Bull.

Vodka, Blue Curacao, Razzmatazz, a splash of orange juice and sour mix.


Similar to a Long Island but made with pink grenadine.

History Who knows?

Tastes like Fan of chugging a huge mug of Red Bull? Order this.

History Owners said they were one of the only bars around that stocks chocolate vodka, so they made a drink for it.

Tastes like Chocolate sex.

History Mugs’ managers found this drink in Panama City and brought it home.

Tastes like Excellent balance of fruit and booze.

History The owners call it the Naughty Schoolgirl because of the bar’s proximity to campus.

Tastes like An alcohol-flavored cherry Dum Dum. Hell, they even put one in it.

History No one knows.

Tastes like Take three sips of this fruity drink, and you’re buzzed. Drink the whole thing, and don’t expect to try too many other drinks without throwing up.

Winter 2009-10 FUSION 7


Nutritional facts ‘Think while you drink’ gets a whole new meaning


hirsty Thursdays are some of the biggest party nights for college students. But one night of heavy drinking can leave you with a nasty hangover, and the bad decisions you made can linger for days. The damage to your diet and your body, all the calories from alcohol, the unexpected late-night eating — it adds up. Five bottles of Bud Light contribute 550 calories to your daily caloric intake; five drafts means 732 calories. If beer isn’t your drink, it’s easy to assume you’re consuming fewer calories. Think again. Sugary cocktails add to your waistline, too. Mixing different types of alcohol in one drink is harsh on the body, and that much alcohol needs a lot of additives to make it sweet. One 12-ounce margarita will add about 540 calories while the same-sized pina colada has 625. Tack on the fact that college students tend to reach for fatty snacks after a night of drinking, and you’ve easily consumed double your daily caloric intake. Senior sports administration major Chris Stroh predicts he consumed 2,628 calories within a four-hour period. He drank eight bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon during his eight games of beer pong, which he claims he won early, in the night. One bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon is 153 calories. Eight is 1,224 calories. And he was just getting started. 8 FUSION Winter 2009-10

Then, he took two shots of Jose Cuervo to celebrate a friend’s birthday. A shot of alcohol typically ranges from 70 to 95 calories depending on the proof of the alcohol. For Stroh, each shot was another 97 calories. Next, he drank his last four beers, which added another 612 calories. He drank two Keystone Lights before eating a bowl of Campbell’s New England Clam Chowder, serving size: half a cup. We doubled that to one cup to represent a bowl. So the two beers and soup equal another 388 calories. Stroh then munched on some tortilla chips and salsa. He didn’t know exactly how much, so we estimate 180 calories for the chips and another 30 for the salsa added to his total consumption. For many college students, Stroh’s night is typical. And the following morning is usually spent in bed catching up on lost sleep or waiting for the hangover to go away. Revelers rarely plan how much they’ll drink during the night, and it’s difficult to avoid late-night hunger. And even if you get up and try to work off the pounds, you may not be doing your body any good. “Alcohol consumption does slow the absorption of certain proteins, which allow for muscle growth,” fitness associate and personal trainer Derek Baker says. “Basically, the rule of thumb I’ve always heard is, for every three drinks you have, you negate one day of working out.”

— Kelsey Henninger Illustration by Daniel R. Doherty


Level Dining Lounge

If you want something classy — like, make sure you dress up but forget the satin gloves and boa — then Level Dining Lounge is the place for you. But even then, happy hour drinks are between $2 and $4, so it might just be imitation-classy you’re looking for. Chicken and pizza, shrimp and steak — most dishes cost less than $10. 700 N. High St., 614.754.7111,


Columbus’ Short North Spend a day in one of Ohio’s most diverse neighborhoods Just north of downtown Columbus along High Street, you’ll find the

city’s arts district — full of trendy bars, eateries, art galleries and shops. This small section of High Street and its diversity has drawn in the LGBT community. Although all bars and restaurants aren’t all-out “gay,” they show their support in some way — be it through equality happy hours or offering the latest gay literature on their tables. There’s never a night in the Short North when you can’t find something to do. Wednesday night offers drink specials during the latest “American Idol” or “Glee” episode watch party. But the first Saturday of each month is the district’s Gallery Hop, during which more than 40 new art exhibits and nontraditional art venues are spotlighted, and performances fill the street. — Kelly Pickerel


Skully’s Music Diner

Skully’s offers live music and good food in a rock ‘n’ roll-themed diner. The leopard-print bar has $1.50 happy hour from 4 to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday, and two stories of eating areas provide a unique view of those bands just starting out or that have been around awhile. The menu is decently priced: a pizza for $7 and many sandwiches for $6. Thursdays are Ladies Eighties nights, when ladies get in free, and you hear all the ’80s music you can stand. 1151 N. High St., 614.291.8856,

Union Bar + Food

Union has a classy vibe that isn’t shoved in your face. Service manager Joe Donaltone says the café/bar is one of the most vibrant and exciting gay bars in Columbus. Offering entertainment and “budget-friendly” drink specials every night of the week, Union promises a packed house where you’re bound to meet someone new. The video bar provides an atmosphere for Ohio State football games, “American Idol” and “Glee” watch parties and Sundays Showtunes, when only Broadway’s best are featured on the big screens. 782 N. High St., 614.421.2233,

Sit outside and sip an espresso and nibble on a sandwich, or come back after dark and have one of the 50 beers on draft at Bodega, a bar and eatery. Happy hour is half off, and you can snack on feel-good foods like grilled cheese or be exquisite with salmon and caramelized pears. 1044 N. High St., 614.299.9399

Piece of Cake

A cute little shop with wide bay windows tucked in a back corner of a building is where you’ll find Piece of Cake, a pastry shop that also offers light lunches. The cakes are works of art, looking too good to eat. For $3, you can get orange juice and a cinnamon roll bigger than your head. The paninis and chicken salad sandwiches are a nice substitute to the hamburger and steak houses surrounding the bakery. 772 N. High St., 614.421.0399,

{milk bar}

Somewhat pricey but definitely trendy, {milk bar} is a youth clothing store concentrating on worldly cultures but also classic Americana. The store aims to please to both sexes but mostly caters to for petite women. 1203 N. High St., 614.754.8802,

Monkeys Retreat

Monkeys Retreat specializes in art, healing and erotica. Not only are tai chi classes taught, but there’s a clothing boutique and bookstore for those 18 and older. Adult books ranging from comics to photo spreads and healing herbs to mind alteration subjects are for sale. 1202 N. High St., 614.294.9511,

Winter 2009-10 FUSION 9


Thoughts from a Midwest GenderQueer

Jac Stringer is one of the leading gender and sexuality educators in the Midwest. At 25, Stringer has had


is the most fluid. I think really it’s kind of whatever you make it. It’s kind of that identity autonomy.

a huge impact on the LGBT community through his advocacy and activism. Currently working for Oberlin College as its LGBT community coordinator, Stringer also works as the director of the GenderQueer Coalition. Stringer originally attended Kent State as an art major, but he transferred to the University of Cincinnati where he graduated with a degree in psychology and a minor focusing on sexualities and gender studies. After blogging for years about trans issues for Advocates For Youth’s blog, “Amplify Your Voice,” Stringer started his own blog, “Midwest GenderQueer, the musings of a genderfucking femme boy.” In his free time, Stringer performs with a group called the Black Mondays, a drag king troupe in Cincinnati. When did you first become involved with activism? I really started doing real activist work my freshman year at Kent State. My academic work with queer stuff kind of melded with activist work, and I started working on queer activism and trans activism. What does being genderqueer mean to you? It is the most fluid. It is what you make it. That can be anyone who is more on the gender-conforming side. I’m a trans and have a completely unreadable gender. I think really it’s kind of whatever you make it. It’s kind of that identity autonomy. When did you first realize you were genderqueer? I came out directly to the trans community. I kind of got exposed to everything at once. I sort of tagged onto the term ‘genderqueer’ right as I came out. I guess a year or so after I came out as trans, I really started to own it more. I guess in two years, I really started to fuck with gender. When did you first start blogging? I started blogging with Advocate’s “Amplify Your Voice.” I’m on the Ohio Advocates team. They asked me to be a blogger for “Amplify,” and I

10 FUSION Winter 2009-10

— Jac Stringer, gender and sexuality educator and activist

<< had never actually blogged before. They do really great training. I love telling people what I think. Why did you create your own blog? I got really into blogging, and I didn’t think some of the things I wanted to cover fit in (with what I was already doing) so I created my own blog. What is one of your goals? To create an accessible inclusive community in the Midwest, creating an intricate network of supported and activist communities that are inclusive of queer and gender-variant people. How do you feel you’ve affected the LGBT community? I should focus on Ohio. Most of my work has been Midwest-focused. I would like to think that I’ve been just one of many wheels in a great working machine that’s working to make the Midwest a better place for people who are queer. Who has influenced you the most? Advocates For Youth has really helped me shape

my craft. And then you just pick up things you can from conferences and things. That’s got to be one of the big elements where I get a lot of my information. There is no queer education system, so there was no one to teach me what I needed to know. When you aren’t working on one of your projects, what do you do in your free time? A hobby-turned-profession that I really love is performing. I started performing with my drag troupe in early 2006. I really got to access a group of gender nonconforming people. For the most part, it’s a really fun thing to do, and it lets me meet a lot of really cool people. Is there anything else you really like to do? I really like swinging on swing sets. It’s something I enjoy. There’s nothing better than a good swing set. I have two kitties. I travel a lot. That’s the nice thing about working at Oberlin. I’m essentially doing everything I did in Cincinnati but getting paid for it.

— Christopher Clevenger

Photograph courtesy of Lloyd Wolf


THEIR BEDS MAY BE LOFTED ... ... but Andy Sokolich, left, and Adam Schulte still sleep together in their Johnson Hall dorm room. The university doesn’t have a policy regarding same-sex students living with their partners on campus.

Yes, your roommate can be your girlfriend or boyfriend If he or she happens to be the same sex, Kent State can’t stop you If Adam and Andy break up, they’ll probably just draw a line down the middle of the floor. They

could request to switch roommates, but they can’t break Residence Services’ contract and leave their dorm room in Johnson Hall. They don’t think they’ll break up, though, and they haven’t had any problems yet. Well, they’ve had a few problems.

“I usually wake up with an arm under my head and the other arm shoved up against the wall …” says Adam Schulte, sophomore biotechnology and math major. “I told you, they take four inches off the side and add it to the end. That’s exactly how they get an ‘extra-long twin,’” says Andy Sokolich, freshman business and math major. Residence Services has no policy regarding guys rooming with their boyfriends and women living with their girlfriends. So basically, they don’t not allow it. Then why can’t heterosexual couples live with their significant others in Kent State’s dorm rooms? “That’s a good question,” says Jill Church, associate director of Residence Services, “and I think it’s more rooted in that’s how we’ve always practiced it.” Church says she doesn’t have a personal opinion about gay people living with their boyfriends or girlfriends. When I tell her Adam and Andy are dating and living together, she says she has no interest or grounds to do anything about it. Photograph by Caitlin Sirse

So with no administrative pressure discouraging gay couples from living together, the decision falls with the couples, and you can find a range of opinions. “I asked my friends if they thought it was a good idea,” Schulte says. “The ones who were single said it would be a bad idea, but the ones in relationships said it would be a good idea. Probably because the ones who were dating thought it would be nice to live with the person they were dating.” Before 1984, there weren’t many co-ed residence halls at all at Kent State, says Kim Ferguson, coordinator of residential communities. Now all of them have at least male and female floors. Church says it’s likely dorm rooms will never be co-ed at Kent State, at least not any time soon. “The reality is we’re a state institution, and we’re in Ohio,” she says. “Ohio is pretty conservative in that area.” — Ben Wolford

Kent State’s policy regarding transgender and gender-neutral housing “Students are assigned to resident hall rooms according to their birth-sex unless sex reassignment surgery is complete.” It goes on to say, “Transgendered individuals — or those who are transitioning to transgendered status — who are requesting a roommate are encouraged to meet with Residence Services staff … to process this request. Per Residence Services policy, opposite-sex students (specific to birth-sex prior to sex reassignment surgery) are not assigned as roommates or suitemates.”

Winter 2009-10 FUSION 11




e had been working together at another university for several years. He cared deeply about so many of the same things I cared about. We had a mutual understanding that was easy flowing as only two great friends could have. One day, without any warning, and in a matter-of-fact kind of way, my long-time friend simply said it: “I’m gay.” He said it while talking about a lot of other things; it was sort of mixed in some other statements. I almost missed it. He didn’t seem to want to give me the chance to respond, but I knew how much he wanted me to know. He needed me to hear him say it. I was stuck for a moment. I looked away from him, and when I looked back, I knew he was searching — searching for our friendship, our relationship that was so easy-flowing, so good, so kind, so wonderful. He needed me to understand. Even though it was a subtle need, it had been a weight on him. He needed to tell me. I needed to reaffirm our friendship. It wasn’t time for me to flake out, and I didn’t. But I wasn’t sure I really heard what I heard. You may be sitting here reading this and wondering to yourself, “What’s the big deal?” In retrospect, in some ways, I think the same thing but not in the obvious way. My friend’s two simple words — a frank, personal admission of part of who he is, has ruined lives and separated friends and families forever, it seems. Living life in the closet is a safe place for many. If someone hasn’t come out yet, they may not be ready to accept the reality that they may be treated differently by some just because of who they are. Yet there is an undeniable freedom in the release of those two words. Breaking the silence is the beginning of unlocking the personal prison in which someone who’s different from the majority places him or herself. It is not in how the world treats us that determines our destiny; it is the internal struggle with accepting the change we need to make within ourselves. We have the power within us to change the world by first changing how we will deal with the world. What would you have done in my place? What would change about one of your best friends if he or she came out to you today? We’ve all kept things from someone we’re close with, but imagine the burden of keeping something as personal as sexual preference from someone who’s so important in your life. How would you do it? Could you do it? No one should have to carry such a burden. As Kent State’s highest-ranking diversity advocate, I’m working to make Kent State a university where no one should fear standing up and being out about who he or she is. I am a firm believer that we can put excellence in action only when we foster appreciation of all differences, 12 FUSION Winter 2009-10

however subtle or obvious they may be. It is the right of all people to be treated with respect and dignity. But recognizing differences and promoting their value in the majority is just the start. Difference is a norm in America; we are a country full of difference, which has been our capitalizing strength — and at the same time, our destructive downfall. We struggle with it as a nation because we have not, as a society, placed value in educating current and future generations that what seems to separate us actually binds us together as a strong nation. Mahatma Gandhi tells us to “be the change you want to see in the world.” And that’s the challenge I make to you, Kent State, and the challenge that motivates me every day I come to work to make this university a better place for all of us. I encourage you to ask lots of questions about things you don’t understand. Share information about those things that you do understand, and keep an open mind and a willing heart for change. If you are in class and someone makes a hurtful, uninformed remark, challenge it. Ask, “Why?” We need more advocates who will stand up for those who find themselves at a disadvantage because of differences in the way we think, live and simply are. And I’m here for you, for all students, staff and faculty at Kent State. In spite of what it feels like at times, things do have a way of working out. As it reads in our university’s official code, “Kent State University is … committed to maintaining an educational, residential and employment environment free from hostility, intimidation, or harassment based on such personal attributes as race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, identity as a veteran with a disability, veteran of the Vietnam era, gender, sexual orientation, or on any other basis.” That’s a lot of people to stand up for, and whether you can check any of those boxes yourself, I am wholeheartedly an advocate for your success at Kent State. I was speechless when my friend came out to me 15 years ago. I really had no idea this was who he was, and did it really matter? For a split second, I wasn’t sure I was talking to the same person. I was caught between two opposing opinions. I never had to choose to be close friends with someone gay. But the choice was made for me. I was already his friend. I knew he was still the same person and one of my very close friends. Being gay could not change that. And it didn’t. Being gay made no difference whatsoever. F Dr. Alfreda Brown is Kent State’s vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. Photograph by Abra Williams-Witzky


PROUD FLASHES Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services, and Steve Sokany, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, are two out Kent State officials.

Advocates in administration For these two Kent State officials, being out isn’t a big deal — it’s just part of who they are. etsy Joseph, director of Residence Services, didn’t come out until she was in her 30s in Pennsylvania surrounded by supportive co-workers. “When I was in college, I wasn’t comfortable, and I was probably as homophobic as the rest of society,” she says. Now, Joseph says her orientation sometimes helps her interact with college students. “I’ve had to deal with types of harassments (where) it’s been helpful for students who are gay or lesbian to feel safe talking with me because I may be better able to relate or understand the issues they have faced,” she says. When applying for a job at Kent State, Joseph didn’t hide the fact she was a lesbian. “During my interview process, I used the term ‘partner’ to gauge reactions,” she says. “I was comfortable that this would be an OK place to be.” Joseph says she hasn’t experienced any problems that


were directed at her because she was a lesbian. She and her partner of 11 years host holiday parties, and friends and colleagues of all backgrounds show up every time. “We just live our lives, and we’re OK with people seeing it,” she says. “Our house is just like everyone else’s house. We’re not activists; we just want folks to get to know us and see we’re no different than other couples.” The support from Kent State and its staff has been positive. When Joseph’s partner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year, everyone pulled together around them. “Some of the people who were most supportive to us were my housekeeping staff, who I think I’m probably the first lesbian they really knew,” she says. “They were asking about my partner, and you could tell they were sort of uncomfortable. “But they’re good people, and they care about us, and they care about me.”

teve Sokany attended and worked at a Jesuit university before coming here in 1993. He says his surroundings delayed his coming out until age 24. “I went to the University of Detroit,” he says. “I was in a fraternity. I wasn’t comfortable coming out then.” A sticky situation with a young lady who wanted to be more than friends eventually led to Sokany revealing his sexuality to his friends — and later his family. He left a note on the table for his family to find. “I was a nervous wreck,” he says. “By the time I got home, there was a message (on the answering machine) that I was so ridiculous and that they didn’t care.” Kent State has given Sokany, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, the comfort to be who he is. “While I’m open, I don’t wear it on my sleeve,” he says. “I just say, ‘This is my life.’”


At former university President Carol Cartwright’s retirement dinner, Sokany brought his partner with him. He says he was hesitant to bring him to earlier events, mainly because of what the conservative-majority Board of Trustees members would think. “I had a number of them come up to me and say, ‘Why have you kept him hidden for so long?’” he says. “I didn’t give them enough credit. I feel (Kent State) is a very welcoming environment.” Recently, Sokany got a taste of the real world. He considered a position at a local Jesuit university. He was open with them, and the university’s headhunter suggested he withdraw his application. “It’s important to be who you are and not pretend,” he says. “I don’t think I would have chosen to go to that position because I truly love Kent State, but that was the first time that I was like, ‘Wow. I actually can be looked at differently because of that.’” — Kelly Pickerel

>> Get another university staff member’s perspective on being out and working at Kent State at Photographs by Rachel Kilroy

Winter 2009-10 FUSION 13


believing the pink triangle to be the lowest of the low, and instead wears a yellow star. Over time, he falls in love in the camp and ultimately has to choose between allowing himself to be in love and risking death or attempting to make it through the Holocaust. The movie displays a fictional character’s struggle throughout his encounter with extreme oppression, but that struggle is one that resides in any gay person living in modern America — a group of people granted seemingly fewer and fewer rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

‘The Boys in the Band’ 1968 play by Mart Crowley, 1970 movie directed by William Friedkin

Different directions, but ideas that resonate From stage to silver screen, gay issues span the decades. Relevancy is in the eye of the beholder, but at the time some of these

plays were hitting the big screen, they were desensitizing American culture to the reality of an openly gay sub-culture. While putting its best foot forward, gay culture did eventually emerge to become what it is today — out and open. The civil rights movement is still a battle, but a shift in the way gay culture is accepted now as opposed to how it used to be is indisputable. Another shift came as each of these plays became big-screen movies. While some movies emphasized eccentricities that have led to some of today’s misconceptions in the culture, they all depict all angles in which the gay culture exists. And because of that, they’re all still relevant today. — Robert Checkal

‘Angels in America’ 1990/1992 play by Tony Kushner, 2003 TV movie directed by Mike Nichols

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‘Bent’ 1979 play by Martin Sherman, 1997 movie directed by Sean Mathias

Before Clive Owen was action star Clive Owen, he was gay Clive Owen — or at least his character, Max, was. The film’s opening showcases an openly gay utopia in Berlin, just before the Nazi regime came to reign in the early 30s. Max spends a few days with an openly gay soldier just before orders come to kill him. Max goes into hiding, gets caught by the Gestapo and is immediately placed on a train heading for a concentration camp. He denies his sexuality,

‘Torch Song Trilogy’ 1978 play by Harvey Fierstein, 1988 movie directed by Paul Bogart

The word trilogy in the title refers to three key pieces in the life of Arnold, who is first introduced as a drag queen. He falls in love with a schoolteacher named Ed, but ultimately Ed is uncomfortable with his sexuality and leaves Arnold for a woman. Arnold meets his true love, Alan, and they move in together. The two apply to become foster parents with an option to adopt, and they’re accepted. They move to a larger apartment, and Alan is attacked and killed on the first night. Arnold’s mother comes to visit from Florida, and a series of arguments ensue as unresolved issues come to light. Ultimately, Arnold adopts a son and creates his own stage revue, completing the trilogy of his life. Bisexuality, gay adoption and hate crimes are all issues dealt with explicitly in the movie, and all three issues are still hot buttons today.


This six-hour HBO made-for-TV movie showcases the reality of the HIV/AIDS epidemic as it strikes two characters in the mid-80s during the Reagan administration’s quiet response to the outbreak. The movie also introduces the viewer to an endearing ensemble and follows characters as they discover their fate at the turn of the century in a post-modern America. The HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80s has grown into a pandemic as more than 33.2 million people live with the virus worldwide, according to UNAIDS and the World Health Organization. The highest proportion of infected Americans are still men who have sex with men. This movie

purposefully exposes the painful loss, loneliness and unpleasant life that can be the less obvious side effects of the virus.

The film follows a group of gay friends as they meet up at Michael’s New York City apartment to celebrate their friend Harold’s birthday. Just before the party starts, Alan, Michael’s old college roommate, places a frantic call to Michael, saying he urgently needs to see him. Alan shows up just as the cast begins to dance together. He meets each friend, and then Harold’s birthday present from Emory, an abundantly flamboyant interior designer, shows up: a young, blond, muscular male escort. A fight between Alan and Emory ensues, and finally Harold shows up to the party. Ultimately, the night boils down to a game in which Michael tries to expose Alan as a homosexual, but that assumption seems to be wrong . . . or is it? The movie seems to serve as a vehicle to introduce the importance of a close group of friends in gay culture to the masses. Though this was a top-ofthe-line production in its day, the personalities in the movie are no longer unexposed and understated.


DEAR CAROl, I’m now a PROUD Fag hag Brittany Moseley


have Carol Weston to thank for my love of gay men. As a kid, I was a devout reader of Girl’s Life magazine, and Carol was the magazine’s advice columnist. I read her “Dear Carol” section religiously each month, but I never thought I would write her. I was not one for sharing. However, when my parents sat me down at age 11 and told me my oldest brother, Sean, was gay, I suddenly was in need of advice. Although I’m ashamed to say it now, when I learned my brother was gay, I wasn’t thrilled. In fact, I was pissed. I had no problem with gay people, but I was a kid who lived a sheltered life in a sheltered town, and I wasn’t ready to share my brother’s sexuality with my friends. Hell, I wasn’t even ready to share it with myself. So I wrote to Carol. Weeks later, when my parents told me there was a letter in the mail from some woman named Carol, I grabbed it and ran upstairs. With each sentence I read, I felt better. Turns out, I didn’t need my parents to tell me it was OK Sean was gay. I didn’t need my best friend Heidi to make me feel better by laughing and saying, “Well of course he’s gay! He wore a pink sweater!” (This was 2000, after all, before pink was acceptable on men.) All I needed was a slip of paper from Carol Weston to make me realize it didn’t really matter who my brother dated. Her words still resonate with me today: “He is who he is. He didn’t choose to be gay. He is gay!” Sometime between my “Dear Carol” experience and now, I became a fag hag. I blame Facebook. Suddenly, I could find guys who strictly liked guys. The week before I started college, I went a bit crazy with my friending of gay boys. Each was a potential BFF. I was looking for the Will to my Grace, the Stanford to my Carrie. Then I found Adam. He still makes fun of me for the friend request I sent him. He had no idea who I was, but I was ready to be his new best friend. We bonded over everything at our first college party. I recall drunkenly asking him to be my gay best friend. (To all you other gay boys I randomly friended, I apologize for being a first-class creeper.) After I met Adam, I was hooked. I found it so much easier to relate to gay guys, and I still do. Sometimes I hate when people call me a fag hag. I worry everyone thinks I like gay men simply because they’re gay. I would hate to think I’m that narrow-minded, but in all honesty, once I became friends with Adam, the rest just sort of popped up. Next came Patrick, Eytan, Sean, Asa and Jon, followed by a new freshman class including Jared, Aaron, Photograph by Daniel R. Doherty

Paul, Dan and Chase. And then another group with Anthony, Wesley, Dominick and Tom. I suddenly had more gay boys’ numbers in my cell phone than straight boys. I went to parties with gay boys. I ate dinner with gay boys. I even got my own Facebook group, “B.Mo’s my hag.” I did everything with gay boys — well, except the obvious. At one point even I thought, “Wow, Brittany, maybe you need to find some straight friends.” But it’s difficult to leave your comfort zone. I mean, when you have that many guys saying you’re fabulous, who would want to give Now when all that up? I did, however, stop seeking out gay I think of the guys on Facebook. Ironically, some of them letter, I laugh seek me out now, which I find amusing and slightly creepy. I’ve made some straight guy and wonder friends, and by some, I mean two. if the poor I’ve learned to accept my fag-hag status. I’ve woman had gotten used to being the token straight girl in the any idea what room, and I know when I get married, I’ll have at least one male bridesmaid. I’ve become one she started of the guys. My guys just happen to care about when she boys, Britney Spears’ latest scandal and the latest episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” wrote me Carol Weston’s advice did more than help back. me accept my brother’s sexuality. Whenever I stand up for gay marriage or cringe when someone says “faggot,” Weston’s letter is always in the back of my mind. Now, when I think of the letter, I laugh and wonder if the poor woman had any idea what she started when she wrote me back. It may sound cheesy to give so much credit to one letter, but it was all I needed when I was 11 years old, and it’s all I need now. I feel immense gratitude that Weston took the time to scribble a reply. She was just doing her job, but for me, she did so much more. F

Brittany Moseley is a senior magazine journalism major. >> Read the letter Carol Weston sent Brittany at Winter 2009-10 FUSION 15


Some (family members) may never be comfortable with the reality, but hopefully they will be able to love their niece, nephew, child, whatever. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Retired Temple Israel Rabbi David Horowitz, vice president of the national chapter of PFLAG


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HOW TO KEEP LOVING A father, ally and advocate shares his steps on how a family grows past “I’m Gay.” Story Brittany Moseley n Photograph Tessa Bargainnier


etired Temple Israel Rabbi David Horowitz remembers his coming out story. He was at a meeting for the organization Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. It was the first safe place he was able to say, “My name is David, and I have a gay daughter.” Coming out is a life-altering experience for every gay person; some people forget it’s just as life-altering for the families. When his daughter, Wendy, came out in 1990, Horowitz reacted as many parents do — with shock, sadness and confusion. But after finding support from his family, friends, his congregation and PFLAG, Horowitz accepted his daughter’s sexuality. Horowitz is the vice president of the national chapter of PFLAG and a member of Akron’s PFLAG chapter. He offers some tips to family members dealing with a loved one who has recently come out.

Educate yourself. There are hundreds of resources about LGBT issues and culture, whether you go through PFLAG or other organizations like the LGBT Community Center in Cleveland or the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Talk to people who’ve been through this before. The best resource you have, though, is your gay family member. If your relative trusts you enough to tell you he or she is gay, you should be able to listen to what he or she has to say. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find support. It’s always easier to go through difficult times if you have your family and friends beside you. Once you’re able to admit to yourself you have a gay family member, start by telling someone else, whether it’s a relative or a friend. You don’t have to come out to your entire work place or class, but having one more person on your side helps tremendously. The more you talk about it, the easier it gets. Don’t forget,

your gay family member is your biggest supporter. When comfortable, begin the process of coming out to others. Before he told his congregation, Horowitz didn’t know if anyone at his temple was gay. Afterward, though, he learned there were 250 gay people or people with gay relatives in his congregation. “Once you get to that point of being able to share it, it is amazing how many people are going to turn to you and say, ‘Well, you know, I’ve got a gay sibling.’” Don’t assume people will react badly, especially older people. When Wendy’s grandmother learned her granddaughter was gay, she looked at Horowitz and said, “It’s still Wendy.” Give people some credit. They may surprise you. Never stop loving them. It’s the simplest step to write, but the most difficult to do. Your relative will inevitably change when he or she comes out, but your

love should not. “I would hope the one thing they would never lose is love,” Horowitz says. “Some (family members) may never be comfortable with the reality, but hopefully they will be able to love their niece, nephew, child, whatever.” When appropriate, embrace your family member’s partner. You’ve just now gotten used to the fact that your family member is gay, and now he or she wants to bring his or her partner home for the holidays. Things just got trickier. The most important thing is not to freak out. This was to be expected, after all. Horowitz says it’s important for gay people to make an effort to understand what their families are going through and not to make any rash decisions. “I think the gay person who says, ‘I’m not going to go there if I’m not welcome with my partner right away’ may be making a mistake,” Horowitz says. Take it slow. Introduce your partner to your parents first at a casual dinner. Then move to include more of your family. After that, it’s easy to invite them to weddings and holiday dinners. “Only then will you have fully completed the love relationship: ‘I love you and those you love,’” Horowitz says. Don’t blame yourself. It’s one of the most important steps: “You’ve got to learn that there is nothing you did that caused LGBT people to become LGBT people,” he says. Remember: It takes time. It took them time to come out to themselves. It took them time to come out to others. It will take family members time to accept it. As long as you have love and trust, it will be OK. F Winter 2009-10 FUSION 17

Retraining the lens on diversity education

As part of a corporate environment in which a debate persists over the relevancy and effectiveness of diversity training, Residence Services follows its own path in preparing resident assistants to be knowledgeable about uniquely LGBTQ issues.

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TEACHING THROUGH SHARING David Jones Jr. (far right), freshman exploratory major, speaks to Angela Backus’ (far left) Human Sexuality class about his coming out experience, while Alex Dimmick (second from left), senior bassoon performance major, and Trae Ruscin (second from right), senior photojournalism major, listen as part of a PRIDE!Kent Speakers Bureau. Speakers Bureaus are an example of diversity training PRIDE!Kent organizes to teach students in residence halls and classrooms about the LGBT community.

Story Simon Husted Photographs Rachel Kilroy


hen Wes Fisher first applied to become a resident hall assistant five semesters ago, he didn’t have a clue what the acronym LGBTQ stood for or whom it represented. “In high school, they never taught anything about gays and lesbians,” Fisher says. “I learned a lot from the diversity classes and leadership program Residence Services offered.” Two weeks into this semester, one of Fisher’s residents came to him to vent about an incident that had incited his concern. Fisher’s resident had recently come out to his roommate as bisexual. The roommate took the news casually, but the resident said a day or so afterward, a group of his neighbors asked him if his roommate had beaten him up yet. Fisher, understanding the situation with a sense of empathy, helped convince the resident their comments were likely baseless and his roommate was no threat. He was right. “As an African-American myself, I sort of understand the worries LGBT residents have about living with people they’re meeting for the first time,” Fisher says. Residence Services training is more than just stuffing a rule book down an RA’s throat. As area coordinator Jill Church explains, the training also places equal emphasis on teaching RAs to honor human differences. That explains all the workshops and training exercises RAs go through on an annual basis. Each year, RAs undergo a week-long session prior to the beginning of the academic year, training of some type in the middle of the fall, several daylong training sessions before spring semester

and finally another day dedicated to even more training in the middle of spring. This all comes after more than 20 hours of training the RA applicants experience during the Leadership In Student Affairs, or LISA, program. LGBTQ diversity training, while it’s only one of many areas Residence Services addresses in its emphasis on human differences, is a big focus. Several “mock hall” exercises, a 50-minute training workshop and even an entire two-anda-half-hour LISA class are dedicated to the discrimination and harassment LGBTQ students may face in the residence halls, Residence Services coordinator Josette Dau says. Unlike big companies that invest millions of dollars to hire instructors, supply equipment and facilitate diversity workshops, Residence Services spends far less. Aside from the cost of office supplies, no money is budgeted specifically to diversity programs. Residence hall directors and assistant residence hall directors instruct the workshops and classes, Church says. The inclusion of LGBTQ diversity training is not a practice exclusive to Kent State, either. More than 552 of America’s largest companies offer LGBTQ diversity training, according to the 2010 Corporate Equality Index, a business survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign each year. Recently, however, some studies have found that diversity training in institutions and companies is not as effective for the workplace as once thought. One study conducted by three sociologists, Frank Dobbin at Harvard, Alexandra Kalev at the University of California at Berkeley and Erin Kelly at the University of Minnesota, is helping to change the wider perception of the value of diversity training. According to an April 2007 Time magazine

article, the three researchers looked through decades of data and found no real change in the growth rate of minorities or women earning management positions after a company began practicing diversity training. Some diversity educators, such as Carmen Van Kerckhove, president of the diversity education firm New Demographic, believe the real reason companies and institutions continue implementing diversity training is to avoid discrimination or harassment lawsuits. “Companies are twice as likely to invest in diversity training than any other type of diversity initiative because their real motivation is to mitigate risk,” she wrote in a June 2009 blog entry. “If a company gets sued for racial discrimination, it can point to its diversity training program as a good faith effort to eliminate racial discrimination and hopefully win the lawsuit.” But there’s a fundamental difference between Residence Services’ training programs and a company such as General Electric practicing diversity training. “We give these classes because they benefit the RAs,” Residence Services coordinator Kimberly Ferguson says. “When you work with students, you must be open-minded and accepting of everyone, no matter what their backgrounds are.” Most of the data Dobbin, Kelly and Kalev studied were diversity programs implemented to improve co-worker-to-co-worker relationships. The diversity training Residence Services provides seeks to help staff and resident assistants better communicate and cooperate with their residents. So while diversity training may be more relevant to the jobs of residence hall directors and resident assistants, does that mean it works? Winter 2009-10 FUSION 19

Dobbin criticized the practice of making diversity training mandatory in his diversity training study. For the training Residence Services provides, however, the problem may just be the opposite. In 2009, two different exercises were aimed at teaching RAs about the LGBTQ community. The first exercise was a LISA class. Because resident assistant applicants were only allowed one excused absence (with documentation) from a LISA class, the LGBTQ lesson was virtually mandatory. The second exercise was a LGBTQ workshop offered along with six other workshops. Because of time constraints, RAs were limited to selecting only four of the seven workshops, making that LGBTQ workshop voluntary. About 120 people comprised of resident assistants, student receptionists and security personnel attended the workshop, says John Campbell, an assistant RHD who instructs the LGBTQ workshop. About 200 people participated in the diversity workshops, Campbell says. But most students who took the 50-minute workshop didn’t find it all too enlightening. “The (50-minute) workshop was more like a mind refresher,” says Samantha Lorenzen, a RA in Centennial Court F. Like Lorenzen, RAs who are already

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“When you work with students, you must be open-minded and accepting of everyone, no matter what their backgrounds are.” acquainted with the LGBTQ community are most likely to take part in the workshop than those who aren’t. “I’m from Columbus, and there are gay people everywhere there,” says Melissa Hosom, an Olson Hall RA, who attended the LGBTQ workshop in August 2009. “I was pretty well adjusted to the gay community (at Kent State) when I got here.” Campbell says they try to focus on the attendees who may not know much about the LGBTQ community. “We generally assume a ‘no knowledge base’ because we want to

ensure all student staff members have a general understanding of diversity issues,” Campbell says. Chris Walker, a Johnson Hall RA, didn’t attend the 50-minute workshop, but he did learn a lot from his LISA class. The learning experience he remembers most was when the class had to match LGBTQ terms to their definitions. “I had a hard time matching the correct definitions for transgender, transsexual and transvestite,” Walker says. “Before the lesson, I wasn’t aware there was that great of a difference.” Diversity training offers varying effectiveness for different resident assistants. Some, like Hosom and Lorenzen, say they didn’t walk away any more knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues than before. But the workshops and lessons are proving effective for others, like Walker and Fisher. And it’s paying off for some LGBTQ hall residents who have found no incident in which their RA has treated them unfairly. “I love my RA,” says Will McSuley, sophomore Spanish major and Lake Hall resident. “I’m sure he knows I’m gay, and yet he treats me no differently from anyone else.” F Simon Husted is a freshman electronic media management major.

Winter 2010 FUSION XX


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Still seeking a more perfect union

After significant success but several setbacks, the path to equal rights for LGBT Americans still requires an effort that is far from finished. Story Jinae West


lmost a year after President Barack Obama was elected into office, he signed into law a bill that would extend federal hate crimes to include sexual orientation. Among those who attended the October signing were Dennis and Judy Shepard, the parents of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in 1998 in Wyoming. The bill comes at a time when people may reflect on what has transpired in the past year — how far the country has come and how very far it has yet to go. Kim Welter, director of programs and outreach at Equality Ohio, says the federal law does not override the state’s hate crimes law, which does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Welter says it is a step in the right direction but has little effect on everyday Ohioans. In principle, it is limited. Still, Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, says the newly extended hate crimes law is a way to push more legislation through Congress. “We’re not looking back too much at this achievement, though it was very meaningful and provides protections to people,” Marsden says. “We feel we can put that momentum to use.” He adds: “It was a big relief to (Dennis and Judy). They didn’t have to hold back their hopes anymore and were actually able to do this.” Going forward, he says Judy Shepard’s biggest focus is to change individual behavior, to get more people to embrace who they are and to encourage others to do the same. That’s where the most social change — employment nondiscrimination laws, repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, marriage equality — is going to come, Marsden says. In June 2007, Mildred Loving, a black woman whose interracial marriage sparked the landmark civil rights case Loving v. Virginia in 1967, issued the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling’s 40th anniversary: “I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. “That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

A generation that’s used to immediacy and the concept of ‘now’ needs to learn patience to savor the ‘later.’ But progress is being made. After the passage of Proposition 8 in California in November 2008, which outlawed same-sex marriage in the state, many felt it was a setback for the gay rights movement. Photos taken in the following days and weeks showed people visibly upset, with arms over shoulders and heads down. At rallies held across the country, thousands carried signs and flags in protest. And more recently, Maine repealed its law that sanctified same-sex marriage, and the New York legislature voted it down as well. So where is the love? “I think we often forget the gay rights movement is still a very young movement,” says Michael Fleming, executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation in Beverly Hills, Calif., and lecturer of LGBT studies at UCLA. “And we live in an age where people become celebrities overnight, or rich, and the struggle for civil rights and the social justice movement is one that requires progress but not always immediate progress.” In other words, it’s unrealistic to think change will happen in the same amount of time it takes for an unknown to emerge as the next YouTube sensation. A generation that’s used to immediacy and the concept of “now” needs to learn patience to savor the “later.” But progress is being made. In October 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled samesex marriage legal, stating, too, that civil union statutes specifically violated the equal protection clause of the state constitution. In the last year alone, Iowa, Vermont and, most recently, New Hampshire, approved legislation to allow same-sex marriage, bringing the grand total to five states out of 50 that

permit gay couples to wed. That’s equivalent to one-tenth or 10 percent, a failing grade by any means, but a number nonetheless. Evan Wolfson, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Freedom to Marry, says the fight for marriage equality is actually moving at a faster pace than many of the civil rights movements of the past “because it is so aligned with the lessons and the inheritance of those blowing chapters.” “Anyone who studies history knows that no movement for justice in America — not the struggle for African Americans, Asians, Latinos, women, Jews — has ever happened overnight,” Wolfson says, “but the lesson for Americans is that it can happen when enough good people speak up and stick with it.” Wolfson would know something about that. Before establishing Freedom to Marry, he worked at Lambda Legal for 12 years and became the organization’s first attorney to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale in 2000, Wolfson asked the court to reject an appeal from the BSA that would ban gay members and leaders. After the 5-4 vote in favor of the BSA, Wolfson continued to advocate for equal rights and help shape national response. In addition, he wrote “Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry” and was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2004. Wolfson says people and ideas are malleable to change, citing a recent trip to the nation’s capital to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act. If passed, it would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as an exclusive legal union between one man and one woman. He says among those who spoke in support of the bill were former Rep. Bob Barr, who wrote DOMA, and former President Bill Clinton, whose signature enacted it in 1996. “Both of them have changed their minds and thought it through, and ending discrimination is the right thing to do. People can change,” Wolfson says. “It’s just, you have to push, persuade and engage them.” Wolfson and Fleming said Obama could be doing more to help further the movement. In June, the Obama administration supported DOMA when a same-sex couple married under California law challenged the act in federal court, though the administration stating it was duty-bound to defend the law until ruled unconstitutional.

Winter 2009-10 FUSION 23

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

A STEP FORWARD President Obama signs the federal hate crimes law October 28, 2009, at the White House, hailing it as a change to “help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray.”

Obama ran his campaign in 2008 emphasizing change, including a promise to protect gay rights. But with hot-button issues, such as the economy, healthcare and the war in Iraq at the forefront of the national discourse, many feel same-sex marriage has taken a backseat for the administration. “It’s obviously an issue that I think they’d prefer not be on the table right now,” Fleming says. “I think they feel they have much larger issues to deal with.” Fleming also believes the administration is more likely to focus on actions it can meet in the short term to benefit the LGBT community, like a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, than to enact marriage equality in the United States, at least for now. Signing the hate crimes bill in October was perhaps one of those short-term goals. As for state legislation, specifically in California, Fleming says there is an ongoing, constructive conversation about when to return to the ballot to overturn Proposition 8. “Because everyone agrees the question is: When?” he says. “And what needs to be in place when you go back (to the polls). You need to know: Have the numbers moved? Have the voters shifted? Has there been a change that we can see since? Can all the LGBT groups and allies and friends be on the same page working in the same direction? How much will it cost? And those are all really good, healthy questions people can ask.” In Ohio, the conversation is a little different. Welter says the organization’s first priority is to eliminate discriminatory state laws and keep people safe in their workplaces. 24 FUSION Winter 2009-10

“In the process of all of that, we continue to educate the populace of Ohio of why relationship recognition is needed, and that’s hopefully trying to bring up the numbers,” she says. In November 2004, voters amended Ohio’s constitution by defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Because of that setback, Welter says there are two ways to repeal it: The Supreme Court of Ohio could rule the amendment unconstitutional, which she says is unlikely because of the court’s conservativeness, or the issue could be taken back to the voters. But to introduce such legislation, Welter says: “You go into it if you want to win it,” meaning it’s necessary to have at least 65 percent or greater in the public polls to put an issue on the ballot. “We don’t have that yet in Ohio, so when you’re talking about steps (that need to be taken), we need more Ohioans to support this,” she says. “The last polling was about 51 or 52 percent supporting civil unions, so we’re nowhere near the numbers.” But Fleming says he still takes heart. Equal rights for all will come, he says. It’s just a matter of time. “I get up every morning thinking it’s our job to move the ball forward,” he says, “and I don’t know if it will come in two years or 20 years. I just know that if we get up every morning knowing it’s our job to achieve marriage equality, we will. In all 50 states. And in my lifetime, we will.” F Jinae West is a senior magazine journalism major.


Washington, D.C. The National Equality March 10.11.09

Winter 2009-10 FUSION 25


Story Jinae West Photographs Rachel Kilroy


a sunny morning in October, a crowd gathers in the streets of Washington, D.C. It’s difficult to tell how many. The number keeps growing, and with it, the murmur of excitement. It’s a sea of faces and banners and homemade signs that say things such as, “Repeal DOMA,” “Separate is Not Equal” and “Hi Mom, I’m Gay.” The march hasn’t started yet. As two double-decker tour buses drive past, the crowd lets out a low, rumbling cheer. The tourists on the top deck snap pictures and wave, perhaps unaware the weekend they chose to vacation in the district coincides with one of the largest demonstrations for gay rights in nearly a decade. A few jump from their seats, flailing their arms in support, which only pleases the crowd. They cheer louder. The mood is anticipatory, the feeling of unity palpable. But beneath the smiles and friendly banter, there’s anger. A man holds a sign that invokes the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “A right delayed is a right denied.” Another reads: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The taste is bittersweet. From across the country, they’ve come in the thousands for the National Equality March to demand equal protection under law for all LGBT people. It’s the first mass protest for gay rights in the capital since the Millennium March in April 2000. They want their voices and stories to be heard, for even those who are treated as second-class citizens are not silent and still make a sound. ONE SUNNY SUNDAY . . . PREVIOUS PAGE Shelly

Bailes and Ellen Pontac from Oakland, Calif., pose for a picture in front of the Capitol building during the march. Bailes and Pontac are Yolo Chapter leaders for Marriage Equality USA. THIS PAGE Activists carry an ‘Equality Across America’ banner at the front of the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. The march was more than 2 miles long.

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The day before the national march, a flash mob is held in the main hall at Union Station around 1:15 p.m., similar to the popular “Frozen Grand Central” video on YouTube. About a hundred people freeze simultaneously for two minutes. Some hold hands or hug. Others are pretending to take photos with their digital cameras. One young woman salutes. At the end of the freeze, they erupt into applause and begin to file outside. The plan is to march to the Capitol Building from the station. They chant, “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!” And then: “Out of the closets! Into the streets! Out of the closets! Into the streets!” And thus they go. It’s a sort of precursor to the next day’s march, aimed toward a younger generation. Most look between 18 and 25. They carry rainbow flags and umbrellas and pump their fists in the air to the beat of the chants. They’re young and galvanized and only briefly lose momentum when they stride up a flight of steps, out of breath, to which one marcher dryly remarks that they’re all out of shape. On the lawn of the Capitol, they say their piece, repeat their chants and quickly disperse. Denny Krantz, 29, of Seattle, is among the marchers at the Capitol. He came to D.C. with his partner, Andrew Thayer, 39, to share the experience and, in part, to renew his youthful idealism. In college, Krantz majored in political science and was head of an LGBT organization 28 FUSION Winter 2009-10

YEARNING FOR ACTION Young activists chant before taking to the streets Sunday for the march. Some of the chants include, “Out of the closet and into the streets” and “Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right.” RIGHT Gay rights pioneer Cleve Jones rallies the crowd. Jones was one of Harvey Milk’s closest friends. ABOVE

on campus, but sometime after graduating, he lost that sense of positivism. “One of the things I really liked about the march was that it was a youth-led event,” he says. “I think that it’s really great when you see the youth getting involved because, really, that is the future, as cliché as that sounds.” Growing up in a small, mostly conservative town, Krantz says he “was one of those people who everyone else knew was gay” before he did and often felt like an outcast. “That’s something that has led me here and actually are some issues I still deal with — the idea of just accepting who I am and being comfortable with it and not having the internalized homophobia that’s kind of been put upon me,” Krantz says. It took time to overcome those issues, and, in doing so, he feels it’s his turn to attend events such as the National Equality

March to help others deal with similar problems. “Once you can look in the mirror and be proud of who you are, your life is way better,” he says. Later in the evening, there’s a rally and vigil near the White House marking the fight to end HIV/AIDS. It features a handful of speakers, and someone sings a slow Broadway ballad. After a cold, rainy day, the sky begins to clear as it darkens, turning a bright, fiery red. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. The Washington Monument looms over the stage. Krista Pritchard, 27, and her friend Noelle Baus, 28, drove from Dayton and are at the vigil that night. Baus says it was a last-minute decision. Pritchard clarifies it had been in the works for a while, as she was recently laid off, and the trip was put on hiatus. “I came to the capital because I want my voice to be heard,” Pritchard says. “I know there are marches all over the country, but I just feel like it’s something really special when we gather here in our nation’s capital to fight for our rights because we should be citizens like everybody else, not second-class. “And especially in the Midwest, I feel like a second-class citizen.” But there was another reason Pritchard decided to make the drive to D.C.: “I came here because my mom said I should,” she says. Pritchard grew up in a very Catholic family and came out in her early 20s, describing the

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EQUALITY ENFORCEMENT ABOVE Police block off marchers from the street before the event began. More than 200,000 people participated. LEFT More young advocates rally before the march.

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“I came to the capital because I want my voice to be heard. I know there are marches all over the country, but I just feel like it’s something really special when we gather here in our nation’s capital to fight for our rights, because we should be citizens like everybody else, not second class. And especially in the Midwest, I feel like a second-class citizen.” — Krista Pritchard, from Dayton moment as “huge” when she told her mom, who cried. But in the months after, her mom became an activist and a member of the Human Rights Campaign. Since then, they have marched together. And although her mom wasn’t able to come to D.C., she told Krista to get out there and speak for everybody. “At first, it was really traumatic for my mom, but now she’s right there with me, right next to me when I’m marching,” Pritchard says. The next day at the march, Ken Stone and Tom Slaman, both 65, come with a sign that says they’ve been together for 37 years. “Thirty-seven years, right?” Stone asks. “For 33 of those years, I hid him from my community. My significant other. And then I said, ‘You know, that is so wrong.’” The two ended up getting married in Massachusetts. Slaman says it was a “fabulous” wedding. “And it was so right,” Stone continues. “And it was so wrong to have hid him as a person, and I’m making up for it now.” Standing nearby, Billie Tadros, 21, and Katie Falvo, 20, of Pennsylvania are holding hands, dressed in wedding veils and brightly colored tie-dye T-shirts. The two met in a coffee shop and have been dating for the past six months. It’s their first protest in D.C. They came to march for justice and equal rights and love — love for a week, love for six months, love for 37 years. “It is what it is. Love is love. It comes up everywhere,” Falvo says matter-of-factly. “It comes over coffee. It comes in a parade. It just is what it is.” As the march begins, the crowd moves like a car inching its way through a traffic jam. People shuffle their feet, eagerly making their way to the Capitol. There are people from all 50 states. “Oh, Texas,” a woman says as a group in cowboy hats makes its way through the crowd. Another man holds a banner admitting he’s a gay Mormon from Utah. “We love you, Mormons!” someone shouts behind him. The man turns around and smiles. Up ahead, a white-haired man, who looks to be in his 70s or 80s, speaks into a megaphone as the marchers walk by. “God wants to heal you,” he says. Most of the crowd ignores him, acknowledging him only with amused side

>> Watch video from the march at glances and scoffs. But a few put their arms around him, mockingly, and take photos. “God wants to heal you,” the man repeats. “I’m a nurse,” one person says. “I can heal myself, thank you.” A man in a red, white and blue dress and heels struts past exclaiming, “Jesus hates me? But I’m born again!” Eventually, the crowd’s chanting of “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Homophobia’s got to go!” gets so loud that the man’s voice can no longer be heard. The march stretches down the streets and to the Capitol where a rally is already underway. A men’s chorus sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Streaming in by the hundreds, people sit wherever they can — on patches of grass and concrete ledges. Cleve Jones speaks at the rally. So do Lady GaGa and Cynthia Nixon and a host of other activists and politicians. But the march isn’t so much about the well-known faces or even how many people show up. It isn’t about the signs or catchy chants. And it isn’t about sticking it to those who are unable to understand why the march happened in the first place, such as the man with the megaphone. It’s about coming together to fight for something they all believe in and knowing they aren’t alone. It was for people such as Denny and Krista and Ken and Tom. \ The chorus begins to sing the national anthem. The crowd quiets down. Some stand and hold their hands over their hearts. A man wearing a T-shirt that says, “You gotta give them hope,” leans against his friend. And it’s possible that this time, the song means more to the people than it did before. About a block away from the Capitol, near Union Station, a couple poses for their wedding photos. The woman wears a long, flowing white dress, and the man in a black tuxedo and tie holds her close. A group from the march stops briefly to watch. A man carrying a rainbow flag approaches the bride, and the two exchange words, both smiling, before parting ways. And in the distance, the rally continues — the echoes of an angry speaker spilling out into the streets of the city and, perhaps, farther still. F Winter 2009-10 FUSION 31

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Out on the field Not all of the members of Kent State’s women’s rugby team are gay, but your sexual orientation wouldn’t bother any of them. And they’re not the only ones coming out in support of open and proud student athletes. So why does the idea of LGBT students in the locker room still make so many uncomfortable? Story Kristine Gill Photograph Daniel R. Doherty

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here they are. Gathered to the side of a wet rugby pitch stand a few dozen women in sweatpants and T-shirts — far from the helmets and shoulder pads I’d been expecting. They don’t seem to mind the pitch, the muddy field. My shoes squish as I approach. I wasn’t prepared for mud. And I wasn’t prepared for how open they’d be with me about what it’s like to be a gay athlete at Kent State. Once I introduce myself, a few women volunteer to be interviewed. We stand off to the side of the pitch while the rest practice. As the women form a semicircle in front of me, and I tell them more about my story, Kayla Maroney tells me she’s gay. “I didn’t know you were gay,” senior costume design major Tasha Walls says, surprised not by the confession, but rather by the fact that she didn’t already know. “Yep,” Maroney says. And conversation continues as if Maroney, a junior psychology major, had been commenting about the muddy state of the pitch that afternoon. That’s how this team is. No one assumes anyone is gay, but if you come out, it’s not a big deal. “As I started meeting people, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, that person’s gay, that person’s gay,’” Walls says. “It was like they kept popping up out of nowhere. I didn’t really know who was and who wasn’t.” Some girls joined the club knowing there were lesbians on the team. Others had no idea. “I don’t think that was their deciding factor,” says Abby Miller, a sophomore history, political science and secondary education major. “I think it might have helped a few people, but I think that they came to play rugby because they love the sport, and they want to learn more about it.” Sophomore photojournalism major Liz Miller was shocked after her first official rugby game. She’s straight, but the women on the other team were hardcore butch: “Short hair, nonshaved arm pits,” Abby says. “I’d only been to two practices before that, and I was standing back, like, ‘Do I really want to do this?’” Liz says. “I was creeped out, to say the least.” Liz stuck with it and says she’s a better person because of it. Being surrounded by women who are open about their sexuality has made her more open about everything. All the women love the sport. Tackling people, be it guys or other women, is therapeutic, they say. The gay women on the team don’t play because they like playing a contact sport against other girls. “I’m not like, ‘Oh, I want to tackle that girl; she’s hot,’ because I’m going to get her cleat in my face, not a kiss,” Maroney says. It’s a love of the sport, not other women, that binds this group. But that doesn’t mean they don’t date each other.

“People would be making out on the way to our game in the backseat of the van,” Walls says. And the coaches have had to tell players to leave their relationships off the field. Things can get messy when a couple fights moments before the start of a game. They’ve managed to deal with those situations as they come.

Laing Kennedy, Kent State athletic director, has worked here 16 years. He says his administration prides itself on its mission of inclusion, and Kennedy teaches that in one of his graduate-level courses, Sports Management. But in his 16 years as director, Kennedy has never had a conversation with an athlete about coming out. “At the same time, I’m sure we have gay athletes in our program by definition of the population,” he says. And that’s a good thing, because Kennedy says his sports administration is all-inclusive. It’s reflected in the staff and the players. So where are the gay male athletes in this equation? If the population patterns hold true, Kent State must have gay athletes on the football team, basketball team and hockey team. What about the cross country team or men’s rugby team? “More women (athletes) are comfortable in (coming out) than men,” Kennedy says. “If a male, who happens to be an athlete, says he’s gay, I think there’s more peer pressure against it. I think that’s unfortunate.” It wasn’t for lack of trying that no gay male athletes from the university are featured in this article: Kennedy may be right. But regardless of the reasons, his administration maintains its attitude of inclusion. “It’s just not an issue,” he says. “We don’t know (who is gay), and we don’t need to know.” That mentality is perhaps far different from that of a professional sports administration. Pro athletes have taken flack for coming out years after their careers ended. “It’s more accepted at the collegiate level because colleges are more accepting,” Kennedy says. “You can chalk that up to enlightenment. You can chalk that up to education. Whatever you want. It’s an interesting and challenging topic we deal with.”


Mackenzie Yates plows through the Wright State University defense toward the goal during an Oct. 3, 2009, match. RIGHT

Sarah Dobson rushes two Wright State University defenders. FAR RIGHT

Aleece Vossmer runs with the ball past two opponents. The Flashes won 24-0.

Photographs by Rachel Kilroy

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Rachel Bennett, senior organizational communication major, has a theory on the difference between collegiate and professional acceptance. “Professional sports are always in the media, and so image is a big deal to them,” says Bennett, starting guard for Kent State’s women’s basketball team. “But here it’s not.” In her fifth year at Kent State, Bennett says three of her teammates are gay, but it’s not a big deal. The team is a tight-knit group. It was easy for three of the them to come out to fellow teammates, and it made their bond stronger. “When we get on the court, there’s certain little fundamental things like, ‘Oh, I trust she’s got my help on defense, or I trust she’s going to make one more pass to a person to get open. She’s not going to be selfish,’” Bennett says. “So when we have that closeness and chemistry off the court, it does translate to the court.” Bennett is straight, but she says finding out three of her teammates are gay didn't unnerve her. She says the women came to Kent State and already had girlfriends and didn’t hesitate to share that with their teammates. “It’s not like I walk in, and my teammates are hitting on me. They don’t bring it into the locker room that way. They aren’t gonna try to date the team,” Bennett says. “That’s like dating in the workplace.” 36 FUSION Winter 2009-10


“It’s more accepted at the collegiate level because colleges are more accepting. You can chalk that up to enlightenment. you can chalk that up to education. Whatever you want. It’s an interesting and challenging topic we deal with.” — Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy

Bennett thinks society is transitioning, and soon sexual preference won’t matter. “We don’t treat anybody (on our team) differently,” she says. “Yeah, it would have been a huge problem 10 years ago because it wasn’t accepted. I think we’re getting to the flip.”

If you hear a coach call out “scissors” or “rainbow” in the middle of a game, you’re allowed to laugh. The rugby players do. “Scissors is a play. We didn't name that,” says one coach, who asked her name not be used. “Rainbow — someone named it that. We kick the ball in an arc to get it over the other team, and (the girls) thought it was hilarious to call it rainbow.” If they aren’t making suggestive associations with their plays, they’re probably making other playfully coarse comments. “There’s a lot of dirty references here,” Abby Miller says. “But I think that comes with the sport in general.” “We call each other homos, and it’s not necessarily in a derogatory way,” Maroney says. “We’re dirty people.” F Kristine Gill is a senior newspaper journalism major. Photograph by Tessa Bargainnier








Pick up the latest issue of The Burr today! Read about one alternative gal who’s learned how to work the camera but wasn’t always so cool with her sexuality. H Our Web editor (almost) went five days without all her modern gizmos, gadgets and destinations. Could you? H Smoking comes with its fair share of interesting moments. Doug Gulasy had plenty after spending a week as a smoker. H City and Kent State officials say they think they may have a solution to tensions — but history paints a different story. H Check out new eyewear trends + Get tips on how to organize that mess you call your room.

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From the 1955 film, ‘rebel without a cause’

â&#x20AC;&#x153; This is all going too fast for me, son.

THIS PAGE Nick and Krittika

wear clothing by Forever 21. OPPOSITE PAGE Brenna wears

a jacket and a necklace by Forever 21 and a T-shirt by Volcom. Fashion editor: Brittany Moseley. Winter 2009-10 FUSION 39

â&#x20AC;&#x153; Once you been up there, you know you've been someplace.

Jeremy wears a cardigan, a T-shirt and suspenders by Forever 21; jeans by Leviâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s; and his own necklace. Brenna wears a vest, a T-shirt and a skirt by Forever 21 and her own bracelets.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153; What does he know about man alone?

Nick and Krittika wear clothing by Forever 21.

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“ I don’t think I want anything, I’m nervous.

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“ Do you think the end of the world will come at night?

THIS PAGE Krittika wears a jacket and a

blouse by Forever 21; jeans by Levi’s; and her own boots. Brenna wears a cardigan, a T-shirt and a necklace by Forever 21 and her own shoes and bracelets. OPPOSITE PAGE Jeremy wears a shirt by Forever 21 and his own necklace.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153; Was it because we went to that party?

Krittika wears a dress, leggings and a necklace by Forever 21 and her own shoes. Nick wears a T-shirt by Forever 21. Jeremy wears a scarf by Forever 21 and his own T-shirt. Brenna wears a hat, a tank and a necklace by Forever 21; jeans by Leviâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ; and her own shoes and bracelets.

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“ We give you love and affection, don’t we? Well, then what is it?

Krittika wears a dress by Forever 21. Jeremy wears a shirt by Forever 21, corduroys by Levi’s and his own necklace. Brenna wears a jacket and a necklace by Forever 21; a T-shirt by Volcom; and jeans by Levi’s. Nick wears a cardigan and a shirt by Forever 21 and jeans by Levi’s.

Models: Nick Allison, Jeremy Brobson, Krittika Chatterjee, Brenna McNamara. Hair by Brittany Parker and Jennifer Turner from Paul Mitchell’s Ohio Academy. Makeup by Patricia Dorsey. Photo assistant: Rachel Kilroy. Special thanks to Water Street Tavern and Candice from Forever 21 Southpark. Shop online at, and

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Nothing is ever quite as it seems at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent. They just want you to be you. Story Ben Wolford Photographs Rachel Kilroy

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WHAT’S IN A CHURCH? “It was just like, I’m not Catholic; I don’t want to be involved in any religion,” says Kat Holtz, a UU church member.

Kat Holtz never made a big announcement to her parents that she wasn’t Catholic anymore. “I didn’t even put that much thought into it,” she says with a broad smile. “It was just like, I’m not Catholic; I don’t want to be involved in any religion. At 15, your eyes really open to a lot of things.” At 52, they’re still open. Holtz is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, which has recently gone from being “welcoming” to being “officially welcoming.” Now, it invites LGBT people to join and publicly lobbies for equal rights. “The congregation was very, very involved in (campaigning against Ohio Issue 1),” says Rev. Melissa Carville-Ziemer, who’s been pastor at the church for five years. “That was a huge defeat for GLBT people in Ohio. It was a huge defeat for the congregation.” For a place that serves people of all backgrounds and faiths, or non-faiths, the UU building could easily be mistaken for a Calvinist church. The steeple blew off in a windstorm in the 1920s, but the bell tower is still there, and they ring the rickety bells for very special occasions. The pews are wooden, and they hold hymnals. But they don’t sing Glorias; they sing about love. The pianist doesn’t play Brahms’ German

Requiem; rather, he plays Brahms’ perfectly secular Rhapsody in G minor. The readings aren’t from Psalms. They’re from Shakespeare. The themes of life and death and love are there. The metaphors are similar to the ones in the Bible — albeit more poetic, perhaps. “We draw from all the different religions for readings,” says Holtz, “and from great literature.” Holtz grew up in Portage County’s conservative parts — Crestwood High School (just north of Ravenna) class of ’75. She earned a degree in elementary and special education from Kent State and now spends her time educating at the church and in the community. Her primary job is at Kent’s Townhall II where she teaches HIV prevention. Beyond that, she teaches teenagers at the church about sexuality. “It’s a very comprehensive program. We cover just about everything you could think of for seventh to ninth graders … anatomy, communication, STDs, pregnancy prevention, birth, protections, gay and lesbian, transgender, uh, positions.” It’s comprehensive. And progressive.

“I’m personally also involved in the Hogwarts program,” she says. “It’s a local school of witchcraft and wizardry. Now that’s something to photograph, let me tell you.” There’s something for everyone. The order of service bulletin has a note at the bottom: “Please see one of our greeters if you would like to use a set of headphones, a large-print order of service or hymnal.” At the top, it asks the congregation to “please rise in body or in spirit.” And the church has a handicap accessible elevator. “It’s really a mix,” says Carville-Ziemer. “We have people who were raised Jewish. We have people who were raised Catholic. We have people who were raised in various denominations of Protestantism. “And we have a substantial number of people who weren’t raised religiously,” she says, “people who just grew up in nonreligious households and as young adults or adults are exploring and seeing what’s out there in the world of religious communities and find ours of interest.” F Ben Wolford is a junior newspaper journalism major.

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Winslow keyboardist Curtis Tate

‘Music is my life, and I happen to be gay.’


’d been sitting in Starbucks for nearly two hours, preparing for an interview with Curtis Tate, keyboardist for local band Winslow, and waiting for a table to open up upstairs. He eventually calls me to say he’s waiting in line, and he’ll be up soon to meet me. At first glance, Curtis looks more like a freshman than a guy who is 26 — he seems shy, nervous even, yet he greets me with a smile and confidence as he introduces himself. In just minutes, he is opening up to me about one of the most personal experiences he’s had. We start off discussing what it was like when he realized he was gay. Tate recalls how he first started to realize he was different when entering puberty. He saw that while his friends were starting to like girls, he really didn’t. He was more attracted to guys. From a religious aspect, this scared him. Raised mostly by his grandparents, Curtis was very involved religiously. Not only was he involved in the church, but also in a number of youth and school groups. Being gay really didn’t seem like an option for him. Religion was a big part of his life and remains so today. But as a young leader, “there was a certain appearance, a certain quality” he needed to maintain. In high school, Curtis went through stages of acceptance. At one point, he was convinced he was bisexual. Later, he realized he was gay. Coming out was a tough decision for him. He says he had been “going through that whole struggling phase,” and the last year of this

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phase was probably the point at which he was deliberating back and forth. “This all happened after high school. It did start to happen before I went to college … I got out of the what’s popularly known as the ‘bi now, gay later’ plan. It was at that point, during that summer, that I told my best friend. She was the first person I told. She was really great. I told my mom at that point, too.” Curtis later told his sister and some other friends, though there are still some family and friends who are unaware of his sexuality. He mentions his hometown, Franklin, Pa., and how it wasn’t as accepting as Kent. Being gay there was both looked down on and unheard of. While he feels there will be some repercussions, Curtis says he is ready to open up to the rest of his family and friends and hopes this column can be a tool in that process. He says he’s trying to be involved in the LGBT community through his music. He’s played at benefits in Akron, and as far as the band goes, members of Winslow are fully aware of his sexual orientation, and they fully support him. I spend just an hour with Curtis, but it’s obvious how unique he is. Though he is gay, it doesn’t define him as a person. “I guess, as far as gay people go, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And I guess I’m just one of those. I love baseball. I do most of my own car repairs. I speak in a rich baritone. Music is my life, and I happen to be gay.” — Christopher Clevenger Photograph courtesy of Leslie Katzenmeyer

Fall 2009  

Fall 2009 print edition of Fusion magazine