USG candidate Evan Gildenblatt speaks at PRIDE! Kent

Drew Parker

Evan Gildenblatt, junior applied conflict management major and candidate for Undergraduate Student Government executive director, spoke at PRIDE! Kent Thursday to explain his campaign platform and identify himself as an ally to the LGBTQ community on campus. During the meeting, PRIDE! members voted to endorse Gildenblatt’s campaign.

Gildenblatt said he believes being an ally is a huge part of supporting human rights, even though there are stigmas related to ally involvement.

“I believe that everyone has inalienable human rights and that people are people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender orientation,” Gildenblatt said. “There sometimes is a stigma, or a misunderstanding, of what it is to be an ally, but I’m comfortable in my sexuality in knowing that I’m a straight male and I’m proud to proclaim myself as an ally.”

Ashley Williams, senior fine arts major, said she became PRIDE!’s allies chair to help her friends fight discrimination and incorporate more “straight” involvement in the group.

“This group has to open people’s eyes to what’s going on in the community,” Williams said. “I do think we probably need more ally-friendly events and activities.”

Sophomore news major Anthony Maul identifies himself as straight and attends PRIDE! meetings to understand Kent State’s LGBTQ community. Maul said people sometimes misunderstand his reasons for attending the meetings.

“I get a lot of ‘I didn’t know you were gay,’ or ‘You don’t look gay,’ and I have to explain that I just enjoy being around people who are different than me,” Maul said. “If you only do what you know, you won’t grow as a person. I use this as an opportunity to grow and enlighten my friends.”

Freshman zoology major Britny Grooms said although most of her straight friends do not attend PRIDE! meetings, she receives a great amount of support from them.

“I believe allies play a very important part and are going to be the changing point of acceptance in the world,” Grooms said. “They’re definitely ridiculed, but part of being strong is standing up for what you believe in and not being intimidated.”

Contact Drew Parker at [email protected].