Students explore gender and sexuality minorities around the world with PRIDE! Kent


Pride! Kent member Phuong Nhat Minh talks to fellow members in the Governance Chambers about his experiences with LGBT community inclusion in his native country of Vietnam at the weekly meeting on Thursday. Three student members spoke about LGBT views and experiences in their native countries. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Kelsey Leyva

Students at Kent State added to their knowledge of the Gender and Sexuality Minority community all around the world Thursday night at an event titled International GSM — Exploring the World Through Queer Eyes. The event was hosted by PRIDE! Kent and was held in the Governance Chambers.

The purpose of the event was to increase the attendees’ understanding of the conditions individuals in the GSM community face in different countries. The program included an interactive geography game and three student speakers who were from foreign countries.

Brandon Stephens, sophomore criminology and justice studies major and vice president of PRIDE! Kent, described the conditions for people in the GSM community in the countries in the geography game, including Israel, Sudan and Sweden.

“We’re kind of trying to shed some light on different countries of the world,” he said. “Every country deals with the GSM community differently and it’s important for us to understand that so that we can better understand the situation in our own country.”

In order to get the audience involved, the event began with a geography game. Attendees were asked to guess the country based on its shape and then guess the gay rights conditions once the name was revealed. Following the game, the three student speakers, Minh Phuong, Valentina Peralta Adrian and one who wishes to remain anonymous, described the conditions for each country and their personal experiences as a GSM individual in their respective country.

Phuong, freshman fashion design major, grew up in Vietnam and said that members of the GSM community are discriminated against there.

“Basically, we are very discriminated against,” he said. “Being a part of the LGBTQ community is like saying, ‘Hey, I’m the odd one out.’ So naturally people would look down on you and call you by every name in the book and try to ridicule or try to change you. That would stick to you from childhood to adulthood.”

Aaron Ambrosio, freshman exploratory major, said that he found the event to be extremely informational.

“I always like finding out different aspects of the world,” he said. “Like tonight, I did not know anything about the other cultures and how queers are represented there. It was a really big eye opener.”

Ambrosio encourages others to expand their knowledge of the world and other cultures.

“It’s a big place,” he said. “There’s so much to learn. We’re all kind of in our own little bubble here in America, and even Kent campus. It always makes me ecstatic learning about everybody.”

Stephens said that this event was not only to educate students on campus, but was also to educate the group about its members as well.

“Essentially, we wanted to organize an event that could help us understand, not only the different cultures around the world, but our members themselves,” he said.

He also added that the ultimate goal of any event is to make members and other students on campus feel comfortable and included.

“We’re still learning and trying to address these issues and make sure that everyone, especially here, feels welcome and feels as included as possible,” he said. “Our goal is to always have everyone feel included and feel like they have a place to go.”

Contact Kelsey Leyva at [email protected].