Section: Features

Kenyon honors LGBTQ+ History Month with virtual events

Kenyon honors LGBTQ+ History Month with virtual events

During LGBTQ+ History Month, Unity House co-hosted a loteria game night with Queer Trans People of Color. | LAUREN TERESSI

October marked the celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month. Dorian Rhea Debussy, associate director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) at Kenyon, implemented most of the programs. The theme of the LGBTQ+ History Month programs was contemporary queer history, and programs focused on significant events and milestones in the LGBTQ+ community from the past few decades.

ODEI kicked off LGBTQ+ History Month on Oct. 1 with a panel featuring staff members from Equality Ohio, who talked about the recent United States Supreme Court decision that affirmed non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ workers across the country. 

For the keynote address on Oct. 20, ODEI hosted a lecture in partnership with InterAct Advocates for Intersex Youth. This was the first large-scale, intersex-focused program that Kenyon has ever hosted. Debussy notes that it was a “historical moment for Kenyon,” with over 200 virtual attendees, both from Kenyon and the broader community. The event put intersex people, members of the queer community that are often overlooked in LGBTQ+ programs, front and center. “The speakers were able to share so many things about their works and what they were advocating for, and also from their lived experience,” Debussy said.

While there was not a significant change in turnout for the National Coming Out Day Lecture, the keynote address reached far more people this year — over twice as many, with at least 30% more live attendees than in previous years. Debussy was thrilled about the turnout and called the address the highest-profile event of the month. “So many people across the campus community, alums and the broader community came to learn about the intersex community and how we can best support them,” they said.

On Oct. 28, Ace Space and Aro Place (ASAP), the first organization for asexual (ace) and aromantic identities at Kenyon, hosted the Ace Week Panel. As the first event in recognition of Ace Week at Kenyon, this panel focused on better understanding and supporting the asexual community. The three founders of ASAP shared their experiences as ace students at Kenyon and answered questions about ace identities and allyship. Debussy also shared insights about asexual representation in the media as Kenyon’s first, openly ace administrator.

Students have had a widespread, positive response to the LGBTQ+ History Month programs. “They are excited to engage and learn despite the programs being virtual,” Debussy said. They emphasized that, despite the challenges of COVID-19, the College experienced two historic moments: its first keynote address to focus on the intersex community and its first panel on asexuality. “Those are huge, not only for Kenyon and the campus community, but [also for] thinking about inclusivity across the broader communities.”

From Oct. 14 to Oct. 16, Debussy and a group of student leaders from Unity House and the Crozier Center for Women attended the Transforming Care Conference at Equitas Health, a nonprofit health system serving LGBTQ+ patients in the Midwest. Debussy gave a presentation on asexual-inclusive sex education, and the students shared their insights as queer individuals in an academic setting. At the conference, Debussy also received the Community Advocate Award for a series of organized events they hosted during the spring. They presented a wide range of topics related to the LGBTQ+ community and helped people across Ohio overcome barriers of information.

On Oct. 7, Queer and Trans People of Color and Unity House co-hosted a lighthearted queer loteria game night that also served as an event for the ongoing Latinx Heritage Month. “The LGBTQ+ focused deck for this game night was created by Felix D’Eon (he/him), who is a queer Mexican artist,” Debussy wrote in a Student-Info email describing the event.

On Monday, Oct. 12, ODEI hosted its annual National Coming Out Day Lecture featuring Erin Upchurch from the Columbus, Ohio Kaleidoscope Youth Center. This event focused on the challenges of LGBTQ+ youth, particularly trans youth, under the recent anti-trans legislations enacted during Trump’s presidency.

Debussy already has a list of speakers that they are enthusiastic about bringing to Kenyon for future LGBTQ+ History Months. Students who wish to learn more about the LGBTQ+ History Month programs can access the last email ODEI sent out for a list of Kenyon- and community-wide asynchronous events and other resources. These include a podcast with The Kenyon Review and a virtual tour of Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., a current exhibit in the Gund Gallery. ODEI has begun holding another series of events for November’s Indigenous Heritage Month.

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