The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

LGBT events provide support for gay students on TR

By Kirsten Mahon/tr news editor

The Trinity River Equality in Education club is providing a place for students to feel welcome even if they feel out of place.

Representing the lesbian gay bisexual Transgender community, also known as LGBT, the club has more than quadrupled in size this semester. In the spring, the group recorded fewer than 10 members. To up the numbers, vice president Mark Warneke sat at a table on TRTR Main Street for three weeks recruiting new members.

Warneke and president Gail Lockwood have announced more fundraisers and events that raise money for local charities and unify student members, gay and straight.

This semester, the club is planning a trivia tournament and an angel tree for the holidays. In the works for next spring are a flea market and a masquerade ball that will raise money for the club and for charities.

For National Coming Out Day Oct. 11, the club set up shop on TRTR Main Street and invited all students to decorate a closet door to represent “coming out of the closet.”

Lockwood said the idea wasn’t to force students to come out to the public but to encourage them to be comfortable with their sexual preference.

“If they wanted to come out, they had a safe place to come out to,” she said.

Lockwood is known in the club as an ally, a straight member of the club.

“A lot of people assumed that because I’m the president, I’m a lesbian,” she said. “My biggest thing that I can voice is that it doesn’t matter. And it shouldn’t.”

Previously, Lockwood said, she was the only ally, but now there are more. For Lockwood, being an ally means she has a different voice that supports the other members.

Club member Damon Carver says he stayed in the closet about his sexuality until he was 29.

“National Coming Out Day is to give people a chance to come out, not just to the people in their family or the people at their job or just flaunt a rebellious attitude toward people who have been hating on them but to come out to someone they trust,” he said. “They could even come out to just one person and stay in the closet if that gives them courage to be themselves. Coming out means being free from the taboo that you have to be in denial, that you have to live two lives.”

Carver said society still sees being straight as normal. He was able to talk about his experience dealing with this society as a gay citizen with TREE in confidence and comfort. For students who become members, Carver has offered his ear to anyone who needs it.

“If anyone needs to come out or needs support, I am here,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m a part of the club.”

TR English associate professor Justin Brumit and TR coordinator of student support Demesia Razo are TREE’s advisers. Razo said she feels pride in taking on the job.

“For me, this community still faces many inequities in our country — marriage inequality, discrimination in adoption, denial of inheritance benefits, discrimination in gender identity and expression, just to name a few,” she said. “The bonus for me is that the TREE group is a lot of fun … The TREE students are intelligent, passionate, committed and all around fabulous.”

Razo agrees that TREE offers a haven to students who seek it. The group gives LGBT students and allies a place to dialogue and create a community, she said.

Warneke and Lockwood said they have seen people come out of the closet with family members who found it difficult to accept the truth.

“You can’t really tell them how to do it because it’s different for everyone,” Warneke said.

Lockwood said they serve another purpose.

“So if nothing else good comes out of TREE, at least we provided a safe place for someone,” she said.

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