PRIDE!Kent has seen its number of straight allies increase this year

Christina Stavale

Hilary, Erin and Courtney Miller are triplets, and for them, taking an active role in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights has brought them closer together.

The three freshmen began getting involved in LGBT rights and awareness during their junior year of high school and are now active members of PRIDE!Kent.

But both Courtney and Erin, as well as some other members of the organization, are straight.

PRIDE!Kent President Colleen Eltibi said at the beginning of the year, she wanted to get straight allies more involved in the organization. And on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, PRIDE!Kent members all shared their coming out stories – and a number of them were stories of straight allies becoming involved in LGBT rights.

“I’ve always just thought all people should be equal,” said Erin, an exploratory major.

The triplets were involved in the Gay Straight Alliance group at their high school before their sister Hilary, also an exploratory major, had come out as being bisexual. It did not influence their initial involvement, but Courtney and Erin both said having someone so close who is part of the LGBT community gives them one more thing to fight for.

“It was an added opportunity for me to be more supportive,” Erin said.

Courtney, a graphic design major, agreed.

“It just means that much more,” she said.

Hilary said having her two sisters as straight allies made it easier for her when she came out.

“I knew that they would be very supportive,” she said. “I think it would be harder if it was different.”

Kristin Klapak, freshman biotechnology major, is another straight ally involved in PRIDE!Kent. She said she’s been involved in LGBT rights “ever since I knew gays existed.”

A straight ally, she said, should be “someone who is definitely not afraid to be friends with and be around gays, and just able to be completely normal about who they are.”

“I feel that everybody should have the same rights as everyone else, and PRIDE is a good way for me to portray that to not only the gay community but to everybody else,” Klapak said. “Gays are people too, and they deserve the same rights as everybody else.”

Kacie Prologo, freshman photojournalism major, also a straight ally, attended her first PRIDE!Kent meeting about two weeks ago. She said she decided to come because one of her friends said the meetings were “a lot of fun and really informative.”

As a straight ally, she said she has frequently been mistaken as a lesbian.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Prologo said. “I used to get it all the time in high school. I just told them ‘No,’ and then they didn’t believe me. It’s just something that never got to me, if any one ever asks me if I’m gay.”

She said family knows about her involvement in PRIDE!Kent as a straight ally and is, sometimes surprisingly, accepting.

“My family doesn’t say anything,” she said. “I’m very surprised, to tell you the truth. Even my grandma and grandpa, who are very old and come from a very traditional lifestyle, don’t give much thought to it.”

Prologo said this reflects society, which she believes is becoming more and more accepting of LGBT rights.

Courtney said she sometimes sees the LGBT community as more accepting and more laid back than the rest of the world.

“I feel accepted,” she said. “When I first entered PRIDE, they kept saying how they wanted to bring in more straight allies.”

Prologo agreed that, as a straight ally, she fits right in.

“I feel accepted, completely,” she said. “Not like a minority, in the slightest.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].