LGBT dinner celebrates family bonds

Freshman+Maddie+Finn+performs+during+Pride%21+Kents+family+spaghetti+dinner+fundraiser+at+the+United+Church+of+Christ+on+Friday%2C+October+19%2C+2012.+The+dinner+was+geared+toward+friends+and+family+members+who+are+allies+of+the+LGBT+community+in+celebration+of+Prides+Ally+Week.+Photo+by+JENNA+WATSON.

Freshman Maddie Finn performs during Pride! Kent’s family spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the United Church of Christ on Friday, October 19, 2012. The dinner was geared toward friends and family members who are allies of the LGBT community in celebration of Pride’s Ally Week. Photo by JENNA WATSON.

Madeleine Winer

Parker Anderson, a freshman psychology major, chatted with his friends at PRIDE! Kent’s “family dinner” in honor of Ally Week while one of his biggest allies sat on his lap.

Anderson’s eight-year-old sister, Brianna Hedglin, smiled shyly as her older brother introduced her to his college friends.

“My little sister actually didn’t know what it was,” Anderson said, describing how his sister viewed his homosexuality. “She asked, ‘Do you like boys?’ and I said, ‘Yes’ — and she was like ‘That’s OK. I still love you anyways.’”

Anderson said he was surrounded by his allies as not only his sister but his mom and two dads came to Kent’s United Church of Christ to celebrate Ally Week at a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for PRIDE! Kent.

Kent State students, faculty and staff gathered with Kent community members Friday night to show their support, as a family, for the LGBTQ community.

Julie Case, a freshman theatre studies major, also came with Anderson as part of his ally team in college. Case, whose aunt is a lesbian, said she has grown up in a very accepting family.

“There’s nothing different,” Case said of her LGBT friends. “You shouldn’t judge them on who they love, who they want to date or who they want to be. I don’t see the reason to discriminate against them.”

Carrie Wilson, freshman accounting major, sat with her ally as she listened to PRIDE! Kent officer and singer Maddie Finn perform for the crowd. Her aunt, Julie Hayden, said she came to support PRIDE! because it is a campus organization that makes her niece “feel at home.”

Wilson said she is grateful she lives near her aunt in college because she was one of her first family members who accepted her sexual orientation.

“She was the first person I told in my extended family,” Wilson said about her aunt. “It’s nice to have someone that loves you and accepts you and is so close. We didn’t spend a ton of time together, but now that I am living so close we have better opportunity to have a good relationship.”

Lindsay Ibos, senior integrated language arts major, came to the dinner with her friends from band, who usually have a family dinner on Friday nights. She said the dinner was her first ally event.

“I’m excited to be here because a lot of my friends are part of the gay community,” Ibos said. “Naturally, supporting them in all aspects is what I want to do. I think PRIDE! itself really serves the KSU community because it provides a safe environment and is supportive.”

Alfred Shaker, sophomore computer science major, said he has made many friends who are in the LGBTQ community since coming to Kent State. Shaker, an international student from Kuwait, said his country has a low tolerance for homosexuals; here, he is free to be an ally.

“Before I came here, I didn’t have friends who were in the LGBT community,” Shaker said. “In Kuwait, it’s not something that you talk about. You can get arrested or beaten for it. When I came here, I was introduced to this [gay] community, and they are normal, awesome people who have a different sexuality. I think if we have basic rights, they should too. I don’t see why anyone should take anything away from them because of their sexuality.”

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].