Page 1

Campus Leaders

SGA President Jarett Lopez and Lavender Society President Isabel Sleczkowski discuss their activism story page 4 and 5

Beyond the Binary page 6

Edition 64, Issue 8 Wednesday, October 9, 2019

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LGBTQ HISTORY MONTH


02 Happenings

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

NORTHERNER STAFF

WWW.THENORTHERNER.COM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Natalie Hamren [hamrenn1@mymail.nku.edu]

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St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington. PHOTO BY BILLY KEENEY

10-13 OCT

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BLINK FESTIVAL | OTR, DOWNTOWN, COVINGTON | 7 P.M. - 11 P.M. Two cities. 30 blocks. Four nights. 120 art installations. A countless number of lights. The best part? Attending is completely free. If you go to just one event all year, make it BLINK. This art festival is incredibly special and drew a million visitors in its inaugural year. Seriously, it’s that good. (And if you didn’t read last week’s Northerner, the center spread was all about BLINK!) CINCITYCON BOARD GAME CONVENTION | SHARONVILLE CONVENTION CENTER | $25 - $45 Are you really into board games? Like, really into board games? Roll for initiative and head to the Sharonville Convention Center for a gaming event for the ages. A game library with over 2,000 board games, special vendors, Magic the Gathering tournaments, several events involving tabletop RPG’s, a cosplay contest, special classes and way too much more to list will be featured at the convention. CINCINNATI COFFEE FESTIVAL | DUKE ENERGY CENTER | $15 | 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. Whether you’re a coffee die-hard or just someone who enjoys a good cup of coffee every now and then, the Cincinnati Coffee Festival has something for everyone. Local and regional coffee roasters will be set up at the festival, which will include tastings, samples, demos, events, shops and live music. Events include things like the Latte Art Throwdown at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Poem: Refraction Isabel Sleczkowski GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

RED flushed his face and mine when he kissed me, I flinched. My hand grew heavier when he held it. I think his eyes were black but I tried not to look. I kept as much space between us as I could. ORANGE was the knot in my ribcage that tangled when I met a raven of a girl with long dark hair who danced like falling leaves the first time I thought about what it might be like to kiss a girl. YELLOW sunshine brought out her freckles and her laugh floated up like bubbles, popping above me and raining onto my skin. She held my hand and my heart raced. I watched scary movies so she’d wrap her arms around me. We kept each other safe but never found love at the same time. COVER ILLUSTRATION BY JOSH KELLY

GREEN glass was in my first love’s eyes and it shattered when I dove into them. The shards left me scarred when she found a boy 3 months later and called me an experiment and I wondered what made my love worth less than his. BLUE was the pang in my gut the first time someone glared at me and my girlfriend and Every Time After. It frames the edges of my sight, Grows between our intertwined fingers, and never really goes away. PURPLE grew between my second love and I with every mile, a deep bruise that hurt every time her name crossed my mind. Our love fell apart like fabric torn at the seams; one thread caught and pulled.


Ed 64, Issue 8

Viewpoints 03

Poem: New Message

Andrew Evans

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

He likes my eyes now that they do not hide I blossomed he says like a flower in springtime And all the wasted years fall away like leaves blushing red upon the ground

How many seasons came and went beneath the frost of that unending winter? But as he said to me everything has its season to grow

How could this be wrong? I sealed it up for far too long Nipped the buds with self-inflicted chill

Poem: 10 September 2019 Elizabeth McClure

Poem: Pride Micah Petway

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

How can I have pride when being who I am is wrong Being shunned, beaten, abused and disowned Only for having pride in who I am

I am like a rosebush. Beautiful from afar. Blooms you want to see and smell forever.

A little voice in my head is telling me being proud is not worth it

But you get hurt if you get too close. I fade quickly and easily; my beauty lasts but for a moment. Many have tried pruning me. Cutting away the negatives, trying to take away the parts of me that they deem unsightly. But eventually, they all got sick and tired of the effort it took to make me beautiful. Make me safe. Likeable. But you don’t. You see the thorns and dare to pick my flowers anyway. You don’t mind them.

They’re just another part of me, you say. You do everything right. You water and weed me, nourish and love me, when others starved me and wondered why I never grew.

But the pride in me is much too strong My pride does not come from the outside But from within Letting the world see my glow makes me happy

You love my thorns. You help me grow to be a more beautiful person. It was not I who was a bad rose. I just hadn’t found the right gardener.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY NOËL WALTZ


04 Features

Features 05

Student activist promotes LGBTQ inclusivity, education

Student body president advocates for on-campus LGBTQ rights Kane Mitten

Natalie Hamren EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Isabel Sleczkowski is a loud, proud lesbian. Or at least that’s how she describes herself. She’s a friend; she’s a safe place. She occasionally puts too much on her plate but tries to give everything she has to each of those things. She’s always learning and growing. She’s an intersection of passions that have manifested in a unique way. Sleczkowski, junior theatre major, is the founder and president of Lavender Society—an NKU club for queer women and non-binary people who love women. For many, Sleczkowski is a role model— although, she doesn’t think of herself as one. It’s a role she’s grown into, especially in college. “It felt like it came out of nowhere, where I’m like, ‘what’s so special about me?’” Sleczkowski said. “I don’t really understand why people look up to me. It means a lot to me. I mean, to know that the work I’m doing is helping people means more to me than anything.” The outspoken activist, sometimes referred to as “gay Jesus” by her mentees, wasn’t always confident in herself. Life in high school When Sleczkowski dated a boy for two years in high school, she said she assumed any feelings toward men was attraction, a term she said is called compulsory heterosexuality. She said she subconsciously sought out the first boy who would date her to prove to herself that she was straight. Sleczkowski said she began questioning her sexuality around this time. During her freshman year, she was at a friend’s 16th birthday party where she noticed a girl dancing. “I just was so enraptured by her that I was thinking about kissing her,” Sleczkowski said. “I was like, ‘that’s kind of weird; Maybe I’m [bisexual], but only for this one girl’ which is really unusual because most people don’t actually know what [bisexuality] is until after they start questioning.” Shortly after, she dated another boy to prove to herself that she was straight because she was confused about how she felt. They broke up and she started developing feelings for her best friend. “I always wanted to see her. I remembered all these details about her,” Sleczkowski said. While she was having these thoughts and realizations, a boy she went to school with outed her sexuality. “I was outed because there was a boy

ARTS & LIFE EDITOR

who kept hitting on me and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer—wouldn’t take anything for an answer—until I, finally, was physically and metaphorically cornered and told him I was gay,” Sleczkowski said. “He told everyone.” Because of that, Sleczkowski was the only out lesbian at her school in Louisville at the age of 15. She was propelled into a place of needing to have all the answers, she said. “When you’re the only one that people know, you’re the one they come to for questions,” Sleczkowski said.

For Jarett Lopez, student body president, his interests in politics and civic engagement have always derived from his identity as someone who’s gay. “Once you start looking into queer theory, you see that oppression is interlocking,” Lopez said. “A populace who isn’t civically engaged is more likely to be oppressed, and you’re not going to see the changes you want to see. All the rights that the LGBTQ+ community have won have been fought for, politically.” “We wouldn’t have made the progress that we’ve made if it hadn’t been for political advocacy.” Lopez was first exposed to the inequalities that LGBTQ+ individuals face while doing a research project in middle school, where he noticed that only four states supported same-sex marriage at that time. Later on, in high school, he did civic engagement work with his school’s gaystraight alliance. He graduated with the intent to continue his social work in the realm of higher education. “A lot of the work I do is stemming from those experiences as a young gay person realizing that the rights that I have are different than someone who is cisgender or straight,” Lopez said.

Shifting to college Sleczkowski immediately sought out the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services when she came to NKU. During her freshman year, she was in the mentee-mentor program. During her sophomore year, director of the office, Bonnie Meyer, approached Sleczkowski about starting a new organization. Sleczkowski said she created Lavender Society to bridge the gap between queer women and non-binary people. She said she didn’t realize the need for the organization until she started it. In its inaugural year, over 100 queer women and non-binary people joined. Sleczkowski said Lavender Society is trans-inclusive. She said that because she’s open and loud about her sexuality, other people are less afraid to be open—which is one of the most impactful things she’s done just by being out.

“Whether or not I like it, being a lesbian affects my views in every single class, in every single thing I do,” Sleczkowski said. “I’m going to be noticing things from a different perspective. And I’m trying to help other people see that, too.”

Enacting change

Isabel Sleczkowski holds her lesbian pride flag.

In addition to being the president of Lavender Society, Sleczkowski is the lead ambassador in the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services, a youth group facilitator for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network,) a member of the inclusive excellence committee for the College of Arts and Sciences, a secretary for Alpha Psi Omega, the head props master for the theatre department and more. “My email signature, as you probably noticed, is long,” Sleczkowski said while she laughed. Loud and proud Sleczkowski said she’s not afraid to talk about herself, saying that sometimes gay people are expected to be quieter and not to “shove it down people’s throats.” Sleczkowski said she gets accused of that. “What’s really happening is that straight girls are talking about their boyfriends

PHOTO BY NATALIE HAMREN

and I interject talking about my girlfriend. And, because I’m gay, that’s seen as me talking about being gay when I’m really just talking about my experiences,” Sleczkowski said. Nowadays, Sleczkowski said she’s less apologetic about being gay or wearing pride shirts. She said she hates the stereotype that being gay shouldn’t be a personality trait. “My lesbianism—and to a lesser extent, my demi-sexuality—has affected my experiences and my life … it’s going to be a part of who I am, regardless of whether or not it’s an identity, or a part of me or how you feel about that. Like, yeah, it’s a personality trait; it’s going to affect how I think about everything, how I approach everything.” “Whether or not I like it, being a lesbian affects my views in every single class, in every single thing I do,” Sleczkowski said. “I’m going to be noticing things from a different perspective. And I’m trying to help other people see that, too.”

During his time as a member of Student Government Association, Lopez has enacted several changes for students on campus, including writing a resolution to create an Academic Excellence Committee for students and staff to create programs. Currently, he is attempting to create a new Gender and Sexuality minor on campus, with a focus on studying the LGBTQ+ community and the intersectionality within it. “You can’t be a proper LGBTQ+ activist, in my opinion, without understanding that the experience is different for people of color who are also queer, or without looking at socioeconomic status or nationality or anything like that,” Lopez said. In addition to being president of SGA, Lopez is a senior political science major, a lead ambassador for LGBTQ Programs and Services on campus, vice president of communications for Sigma Phi Epsilon, member of Alpha Lambda Delta and a member of the Political Science Honor Society. The first organization he joined on campus was Model United Nations, which he is still trying to actively participate in when he’s “not doing a million other things,” he said.

The number of organizations Lopez is involved in has made him a well-known figure on campus. But Lopez doesn’t feel that anything has changed, despite his now-prominent status on campus; he texted former SGA President Hannah Edelen earlier in the semester and asked her “when does it feel real?” Outside of SGA When he made the decision to join a Greek organization on campus, Lopez chose Sigma Phi Epsilon because he felt they were more genuine than others and because SigEp is one of the most diverse fraternities. He never worried about being openly gay in SigEp, or in any of NKU’s Greek organizations, as there are several prominent queer figures in Greek leadership positions. Lopez spoke at a summit for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) last semester, where he presented his experiences of being involved in NKU’s campus organizations while being openly gay. “One of the things I talked about was that you don’t have to be in LGBTQ+-oriented organizations to get leadership positions at NKU, and that our Greek life is actually very LGBTQ+. And the students were surprised,” Lopez said. “If you’re someone who is LGBTQ, you don’t just have to be in

LGBTQ organizations. There’s other stuff you can do.” When he’s not spending every waking second on campus, Lopez said he enjoys doing what any average student does: binge-watching his favorite television shows. He is also a fan of immersive role-playing games—recently, he has been playing Fallout: New Vegas, and his favorite series of all time is the fantasy saga Dragon Age. “I’m someone who re-watches shows because it feels like an undertaking to start a new show. My go-to safety blanket show is Gilmore Girls. I’ve seen it probably four times. I remember watching it as a kid on ABC Family, so that’s a comfort show for me,” Lopez said. While Lopez enjoys watching political movies and TV shows—his favorite being the West Wing, which he stayed up until

“If you’re someone who is LGBTQ, you don’t just have to be in LGBTQ organizations. There’s other stuff you can do.”

7 a.m. watching his freshman year—he said that they contribute to an idea that student government is just a pep club. “People either think we’re powerless, or that we can snap our fingers and change things, but it’s somewhere in the middle,” Lopez said. “I think it’s really funny because there’s people who are like, ‘You need to fix this right away,’ and then it’s like ‘they don’t do anything, they’re a governmental LARP’ing thing.’” ‘Keep going’ Lopez said the most important thing for students to do on campus is to get involved and be politically engaged. “Really, get involved. Because it matters. People think ‘Oh, I vote, so I’m civically engaged.’ No, it’s going to city council meetings. It’s writing legislators. It’s watching the news,” Lopez said. “[If] you don’t know what’s going on in your community, you can’t really call yourself civically engaged.” For all LGBTQ+ students on campus, Lopez had two words to say: “Keep going.” “I think that’s the main thing. It can be really exhausting sometimes, existing in the minority of gender and sexuality, or both for some people,” Lopez said. “It’s important to continue to not let yourself get bogged down with society’s expectations or limitations of you. Just keep going.”

Jarett Lopez said the most important thing students can do is get involved and be politcally engaged.

PHOTO BY BILLY KEENEY


04 Features

Features 05

Student activist promotes LGBTQ inclusivity, education

Student body president advocates for on-campus LGBTQ rights Kane Mitten

Natalie Hamren EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Isabel Sleczkowski is a loud, proud lesbian. Or at least that’s how she describes herself. She’s a friend; she’s a safe place. She occasionally puts too much on her plate but tries to give everything she has to each of those things. She’s always learning and growing. She’s an intersection of passions that have manifested in a unique way. Sleczkowski, junior theatre major, is the founder and president of Lavender Society—an NKU club for queer women and non-binary people who love women. For many, Sleczkowski is a role model— although, she doesn’t think of herself as one. It’s a role she’s grown into, especially in college. “It felt like it came out of nowhere, where I’m like, ‘what’s so special about me?’” Sleczkowski said. “I don’t really understand why people look up to me. It means a lot to me. I mean, to know that the work I’m doing is helping people means more to me than anything.” The outspoken activist, sometimes referred to as “gay Jesus” by her mentees, wasn’t always confident in herself. Life in high school When Sleczkowski dated a boy for two years in high school, she said she assumed any feelings toward men was attraction, a term she said is called compulsory heterosexuality. She said she subconsciously sought out the first boy who would date her to prove to herself that she was straight. Sleczkowski said she began questioning her sexuality around this time. During her freshman year, she was at a friend’s 16th birthday party where she noticed a girl dancing. “I just was so enraptured by her that I was thinking about kissing her,” Sleczkowski said. “I was like, ‘that’s kind of weird; Maybe I’m [bisexual], but only for this one girl’ which is really unusual because most people don’t actually know what [bisexuality] is until after they start questioning.” Shortly after, she dated another boy to prove to herself that she was straight because she was confused about how she felt. They broke up and she started developing feelings for her best friend. “I always wanted to see her. I remembered all these details about her,” Sleczkowski said. While she was having these thoughts and realizations, a boy she went to school with outed her sexuality. “I was outed because there was a boy

ARTS & LIFE EDITOR

who kept hitting on me and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer—wouldn’t take anything for an answer—until I, finally, was physically and metaphorically cornered and told him I was gay,” Sleczkowski said. “He told everyone.” Because of that, Sleczkowski was the only out lesbian at her school in Louisville at the age of 15. She was propelled into a place of needing to have all the answers, she said. “When you’re the only one that people know, you’re the one they come to for questions,” Sleczkowski said.

For Jarett Lopez, student body president, his interests in politics and civic engagement have always derived from his identity as someone who’s gay. “Once you start looking into queer theory, you see that oppression is interlocking,” Lopez said. “A populace who isn’t civically engaged is more likely to be oppressed, and you’re not going to see the changes you want to see. All the rights that the LGBTQ+ community have won have been fought for, politically.” “We wouldn’t have made the progress that we’ve made if it hadn’t been for political advocacy.” Lopez was first exposed to the inequalities that LGBTQ+ individuals face while doing a research project in middle school, where he noticed that only four states supported same-sex marriage at that time. Later on, in high school, he did civic engagement work with his school’s gaystraight alliance. He graduated with the intent to continue his social work in the realm of higher education. “A lot of the work I do is stemming from those experiences as a young gay person realizing that the rights that I have are different than someone who is cisgender or straight,” Lopez said.

Shifting to college Sleczkowski immediately sought out the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services when she came to NKU. During her freshman year, she was in the mentee-mentor program. During her sophomore year, director of the office, Bonnie Meyer, approached Sleczkowski about starting a new organization. Sleczkowski said she created Lavender Society to bridge the gap between queer women and non-binary people. She said she didn’t realize the need for the organization until she started it. In its inaugural year, over 100 queer women and non-binary people joined. Sleczkowski said Lavender Society is trans-inclusive. She said that because she’s open and loud about her sexuality, other people are less afraid to be open—which is one of the most impactful things she’s done just by being out.

“Whether or not I like it, being a lesbian affects my views in every single class, in every single thing I do,” Sleczkowski said. “I’m going to be noticing things from a different perspective. And I’m trying to help other people see that, too.”

Enacting change

Isabel Sleczkowski holds her lesbian pride flag.

In addition to being the president of Lavender Society, Sleczkowski is the lead ambassador in the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services, a youth group facilitator for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network,) a member of the inclusive excellence committee for the College of Arts and Sciences, a secretary for Alpha Psi Omega, the head props master for the theatre department and more. “My email signature, as you probably noticed, is long,” Sleczkowski said while she laughed. Loud and proud Sleczkowski said she’s not afraid to talk about herself, saying that sometimes gay people are expected to be quieter and not to “shove it down people’s throats.” Sleczkowski said she gets accused of that. “What’s really happening is that straight girls are talking about their boyfriends

PHOTO BY NATALIE HAMREN

and I interject talking about my girlfriend. And, because I’m gay, that’s seen as me talking about being gay when I’m really just talking about my experiences,” Sleczkowski said. Nowadays, Sleczkowski said she’s less apologetic about being gay or wearing pride shirts. She said she hates the stereotype that being gay shouldn’t be a personality trait. “My lesbianism—and to a lesser extent, my demi-sexuality—has affected my experiences and my life … it’s going to be a part of who I am, regardless of whether or not it’s an identity, or a part of me or how you feel about that. Like, yeah, it’s a personality trait; it’s going to affect how I think about everything, how I approach everything.” “Whether or not I like it, being a lesbian affects my views in every single class, in every single thing I do,” Sleczkowski said. “I’m going to be noticing things from a different perspective. And I’m trying to help other people see that, too.”

During his time as a member of Student Government Association, Lopez has enacted several changes for students on campus, including writing a resolution to create an Academic Excellence Committee for students and staff to create programs. Currently, he is attempting to create a new Gender and Sexuality minor on campus, with a focus on studying the LGBTQ+ community and the intersectionality within it. “You can’t be a proper LGBTQ+ activist, in my opinion, without understanding that the experience is different for people of color who are also queer, or without looking at socioeconomic status or nationality or anything like that,” Lopez said. In addition to being president of SGA, Lopez is a senior political science major, a lead ambassador for LGBTQ Programs and Services on campus, vice president of communications for Sigma Phi Epsilon, member of Alpha Lambda Delta and a member of the Political Science Honor Society. The first organization he joined on campus was Model United Nations, which he is still trying to actively participate in when he’s “not doing a million other things,” he said.

The number of organizations Lopez is involved in has made him a well-known figure on campus. But Lopez doesn’t feel that anything has changed, despite his now-prominent status on campus; he texted former SGA President Hannah Edelen earlier in the semester and asked her “when does it feel real?” Outside of SGA When he made the decision to join a Greek organization on campus, Lopez chose Sigma Phi Epsilon because he felt they were more genuine than others and because SigEp is one of the most diverse fraternities. He never worried about being openly gay in SigEp, or in any of NKU’s Greek organizations, as there are several prominent queer figures in Greek leadership positions. Lopez spoke at a summit for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) last semester, where he presented his experiences of being involved in NKU’s campus organizations while being openly gay. “One of the things I talked about was that you don’t have to be in LGBTQ+-oriented organizations to get leadership positions at NKU, and that our Greek life is actually very LGBTQ+. And the students were surprised,” Lopez said. “If you’re someone who is LGBTQ, you don’t just have to be in

LGBTQ organizations. There’s other stuff you can do.” When he’s not spending every waking second on campus, Lopez said he enjoys doing what any average student does: binge-watching his favorite television shows. He is also a fan of immersive role-playing games—recently, he has been playing Fallout: New Vegas, and his favorite series of all time is the fantasy saga Dragon Age. “I’m someone who re-watches shows because it feels like an undertaking to start a new show. My go-to safety blanket show is Gilmore Girls. I’ve seen it probably four times. I remember watching it as a kid on ABC Family, so that’s a comfort show for me,” Lopez said. While Lopez enjoys watching political movies and TV shows—his favorite being the West Wing, which he stayed up until

“If you’re someone who is LGBTQ, you don’t just have to be in LGBTQ organizations. There’s other stuff you can do.”

7 a.m. watching his freshman year—he said that they contribute to an idea that student government is just a pep club. “People either think we’re powerless, or that we can snap our fingers and change things, but it’s somewhere in the middle,” Lopez said. “I think it’s really funny because there’s people who are like, ‘You need to fix this right away,’ and then it’s like ‘they don’t do anything, they’re a governmental LARP’ing thing.’” ‘Keep going’ Lopez said the most important thing for students to do on campus is to get involved and be politically engaged. “Really, get involved. Because it matters. People think ‘Oh, I vote, so I’m civically engaged.’ No, it’s going to city council meetings. It’s writing legislators. It’s watching the news,” Lopez said. “[If] you don’t know what’s going on in your community, you can’t really call yourself civically engaged.” For all LGBTQ+ students on campus, Lopez had two words to say: “Keep going.” “I think that’s the main thing. It can be really exhausting sometimes, existing in the minority of gender and sexuality, or both for some people,” Lopez said. “It’s important to continue to not let yourself get bogged down with society’s expectations or limitations of you. Just keep going.”

Jarett Lopez said the most important thing students can do is get involved and be politcally engaged.

PHOTO BY BILLY KEENEY


06 Arts & Life

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

ILLUSTRATIONS BY NOËL WALTZ

What non-binary genders are, how to be an ally

Noël Waltz

COPY EDITOR

Gender is a social construct defined as the complex interrelationship between your body, your identity and your social interactions, according to genderspectrum.org. Human beings’ relationship between their gender and their body goes far beyond reproductive functions. Research has suggested that there is a broader biological basis for an individual’s experience of gender. Your gender identity is your internal gender experience. It can correspond to, or differ from, the sex that you are assigned at birth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children have a solid sense of their gender identity by age four. The social dimension includes your gender expression, or the way you communicate your gender to others. This is done through things such as clothing, hairstyles and mannerisms. It also includes how others perceive, interact with and try to shape your gender. Some non-binary people undergo procedures to make their bodies more congruent with their gender. However, not all of them do and that is valid, too. While non-binary genders have been around for as long as civilization, it is a concept that has entered mainstream

discourse in the U.S. fairly recently. Even after reaching the milestone of being considered by many to be a valid gender identity, there is still a long way to go in how society understands and practices gender. Oftentimes, non-binary people are represented in a way that portrays them to have one type of look—a perfect mixture of traditionally male and female characteristics. Dividing social constructs into binary concepts can make them feel more ‘easy to understand,’ but the reality is that gender, among many other social constructs, isn’t as simple as that. Mer Read, junior French major, has a method for trying to explain how they experience gender to those that do not understand. “I think of the [gender] spectrum as two Venn diagrams. I think of it as a male circle and a female circle, meaning

that you as a person can be either one or both, in the middle or somewhere outside,” said Read. “It’s not just these two extremes; you can fall outside of the extremes, or between them.” Eden Fischer, NKU alum and VISTA volunteer coordinator said some professors on campus have added simple LGBTQ-friendly gestures to their practice, such as asking students to say their name and pronouns on the first day, adding ally training verification on their syllabi and using the correct names and pronouns for their students. Fischer said that’s a good starting point. “Just so other students know,” Fischer said. “Because a big part of it is that people just don’t know.” They said that to them, being non-binary means they can be comfortable in their own skin. “I just think it means that you don’t have to conform to certain things. I like

to dress up, but I like to go to the gym. I like to see my muscle definition. But I don’t like this or that. It just means that I can be my true self,” Fischer said. There are plenty of ways that cisgender people—people whose gender identity matches that which was assigned at birth—can be allies to non-binary folks. Simply taking the time to read this article is a step toward being an ally. “There are plenty of ways people can be allies,” Fischer said. “They just have to do it.” Fischer said that, before graduating last May, they would only tell professors what their pronouns are if they knew that they would have the professor again. Lately though, they have been trying to correct people more often. “I used to be like, ‘it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.’ But I’m trying to stick up, you know, be more confident,” Fischer said. Read said whether or not they correct people who use the wrong pronouns is dependent on where they are and who they are with. They both hope for a future where breaking from the gender binary is normalized, and spaces, such as college campuses, are comfortable environments for people of any gender. Gender is a social construct, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.


Ed 64, Issue 8

Arts & Life 07

Lavender Society provides a home for queer women, non-binary students

ILLUSTRATION BY NOËL WALTZ

Bee Klapper REPORTER

“All right, we’re running on gay time, so we’re going to start at 5:35 instead of 5:30,” Isabel Sleczkowski, president of Lavender Society, said. Sleczkowski’s voice rang out over the chatter in the Student Union’s multipurpose room, receiving laughter in response. About 20 students had gathered for the meeting, as it provides a safe space for both women and nonbinary students to converse and celebrate the thing they have in common: loving fellow women and nonbinaries. NKU’s Lavender Society was created in 2018 by Sleczkowski, a junior theatre major. The club is specifically for women loving women (WLW), a term used to encompass women and nonbinary people who identify as lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or another sexuality within the LGBTQ+ community who are attracted to women. The meetings start with everyone in attendance introducing themselves by name and their pronouns, a mix of those who use she/her, they/them and both. To begin the year, Sleczkowski presented a powerpoint on LGBTQ+

terminology, covering every letter of the acronym and offering her advice and expertise to what she calls “baby gays”—those who just recently came out and are exploring their own sexuality. While Sleczkowski is open about her identity as a lesbian, the organization’s main goal is to provide a place for those who have both come out and those who haven’t. Coming out is described as a difficult ordeal, as many don’t know how their families will react. Even those who feel their families will accept them can be hesitant, such as Alyssa Adams, a freshman education major whose sexuality was discovered on accident by her mother. Adams said her mother is openly a lesbian, but she hadn’t disclosed her sexuality to her mother before her mother saw it on her laptop. Adams said her mother had asked “Is there something you want to tell me?” before crying tears of joy after Adams confirmed she wasn’t straight. Unfortunately, not every student’s coming out can go well. Anna Burt, a sophomore political science major,

came out to their conservatively religious family and received an opposite reaction. Burt comes from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and their family was homeschooled for all of grade school. Burt’s mother did everything she could to keep them from interacting with other queer people in the area. “My parents, specifically my mom, would do everything in her power to stop me from being open about who I was. She refused to let me tell my siblings. I got grounded for months after she found out that I told my younger sister that I was gay,” Burt said. While looking for a college, Burt specifically wanted somewhere as far from their family as possible while still being able to receive in-state tuition. While doing research on NKU, they discovered NKU was given a 4.5/5 rating on the Campus Pride index for LGBTQ+ inclusiveness. In an ironic twist, the first person they met when moving into their room in Callahan Hall was Sleczkowski. Sleczkowski offered to help Burt bring in their clothing, and then immediately offered for Burt to join Lav-

ender Society. “She was like ‘hey, are you gay?’ because I had these pride stickers on my guitar case. I was like ‘yes, I am gay,’ and she goes ‘Great! I run a gay club on campus! My name’s Isabel!’” Burt said. Now as an LGBTQ+ ambassador and member of the executive board for both Lavender Society and Common Ground, NKU’s general LGBTQ+ organization, Burt hopes they can continue to foster an accepting environment on campus. “I feel so connected with the school and with the community here; it was like it filled a hole I didn’t know I had in me,” Burt said. “I’m just so excited and so happy that organizations like Lavender [Society] exist because they’ve really shown me more than anything that this is my home.”

To join Lavender Society, message Isabel Sleczkowski or any member on Facebook. The Facebook group is closed for privacy. Sleczkowski asks that only queer women and non-binary people join.


08 Viewpoints

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Lavender figures: A look into the life of Harvey Milk

Jarett Lopez

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

During LGBTQ History Month, it is important to recognize the queer forebears who have paved the way for the rights that we enjoy today. One such figure is Harvey Milk (1930-1978), who was the first openly gay elected official in California and the sixth nationwide. Milk was an imperfect activist, as most are, focusing mainly on gay men in his activism. However, he offers a snapshot of the time and a call to action for today. Harvey Bernard Milk was born in New York on May 22, 1930 to Lithuanian Jewish parents. Milk was an openly gay man, in a time when gay men were routinely jailed for simply existing. After being discharged from the Navy for being gay, he worked as a stockbroker in Dallas, Texas. He moved to San Francisco permanently in 1972. At the time, the city was known nationwide to be a safe place for gay people. Milk began to build a movement through his camera shop on Castro Street. This movement was built upon a background of harassment from police and local officials. He soon recognized

that the gay voting bloc in the city could be a powerful one. Shortly after arriving on Castro Street, he unsuccessfully ran for the Board of Supervisors in 1973. The mayor at the time, George Moscone, appointed him to the Board of Permit Appeals, allowing Milk to continue his political career. Two years later, the city adopted a districting plan for the Board of Supervisors. This shifted the political landscape. Instead of needing the votes of the entire city, he just needed the votes of Castro Street. Milk argued for more than gay rights; he argued for free public transportation, public oversight of the police and other political causes. He won his election in 1977. His first act after being elected was to introduce a bill that prohibited discrimination due to sexual orientation. Moscone signed it into law. When those advocating for gay rights get louder, so do the anti-gay reactionaries. Reactionaries like Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell used their faith and conservative ideas as weapons to push back against the growing gay rights move-

ment. The talking point used during this time was that gay men were trying to recruit children to be gay. Milk famously opened his speech at the pride parade on the ninth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots by saying “My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you,” humorously pushing back against their virulent ideas and attacks. In November of 1978, Californians rejected the ideas of Bryant by voting against a proposed bill that would have allowed teachers to be fired for being gay. Shortly after the bill’s failure, Dan White, a politician who Milk had strongly lobbied against, was angry that Moscone refused to reappoint him to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. White climbed through a window into the San Francisco City Hall, then sought out and assassinated both Harvey Milk and Moscone. White was only convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five-toseven years in prison. The gay men and women of San Francisco rioted after this. In response, the police conducted retaliatory raids against Castro Street and other

ILLUSTRATION BY NOELLE HORN

gay establishments. Milk once said, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country.” Today, there are 698 openly LGBTQ elected officials—the highest number to date. The closet door has never been weaker. The community must continue to be active in politics and visible in day-today life. We cannot let the Anita Bryants and Jerry Falwells of the 21st century push us into the closet and out of political power. When someone who is openly LGBTQ+ is elected, in the words of Harvey Milk, “It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.” ADVERTISEMENT

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The Northerner | Ed. 64 Issue 8  

The Northerner | Ed. 64 Issue 8