Finding support

Christina Stavale

Benefit unites Kent, Akron LGBT groups

Kayden Healy shakes hands with Kent PRIDE! members at the Roseto Club in Akron. PHOTOS BY ABRA WILLIAMS-WITZKY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Dan Kloock

Normally, when groups of Kent State and University of Akron students meet, it’s in competition, and they’re staring each other down.

But last night at the Roseto Club in Akron, PRIDE!Kent was met with hugs from their usual rivals.

Kent State and the University of Akron’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities united last night at a fundraiser for one of Akron’s transgender students.

Donations from anybody who attended the event went directly to Kayden Healy, a psychology student at the University of Akron, who has his top surgery scheduled for next month.

Healy is having his breasts removed, which he said will be a culmination of years of struggling to find his identity.

“Whenever I looked in the mirror, I saw a very ugly person,” he said. “And now I’m beginning to see the person I’ve always really seen myself as.”

As PRIDE!Kent entered the club, Healy showed his appreciation to members with hugs.

“I’ve been blessed with the most amazing and great friends, and this is just one more blessing,” Healy said.

Healy worked full time while attending school last year to help pay for the surgery. During the summer, he worked 80 hours a week.

PRIDE!Kent President Colleen Eltibi said uniting Kent’s chapter of PRIDE and Akron’s chapter of LGBTU is one of her biggest goals for the year.

“Within the community, whenever you can build bridges, that’s a good thing,” she said.

Kara Herrnstein, a member of LGBTU at the University of Akron and friend of Healy, came up with the idea for the benefit. Having members of PRIDE!Kent there was important, she said.

“We’re athletic rivals, but our community isn’t large enough for that,” she said.

With dancing, drinks and plenty of socializing, PRIDE!Kent members agreed the event was a great way to build community.

“It’s important to have that sense of community when you’re a minority,” said Angela Huffman, freshman visual communication design major at Kent State.

Support for the LGBT community was also an important part of the evening.

“There’s so many people who are prejudiced against the LGBT community, it’s important to support each other,” said freshman exploratory major Jason Troyer, also a student at Kent State.

The two groups are planning to meet again throughout the year, including during Coming Out Week. One tentative plan, Eltibi said, is for Akron to attend PRIDE!Kent’s HalloQueen ball on Oct. 11.

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