Coffee and Culture’s “ABC’s of LGBTQ+” was part of the Student Involvement and Employment Office’s Coffee and Culture series. The discussion was held on Sept. 25 in the Legacy Room of the Dreyfus University Center and students were encouraged to become aware of the LGBTQ+ presence on campus and form allies.
Alyssa Oltmanns, the gender and sexuality alliance outreach coordinator, and Ethan Cates, the GSA program coordinator, were guest speakers at the event, and spoke about their own experiences.
“My objective for this event was to help people think more about how LGBTQ+ issues can affect them personally and to make more allies,” Cates said.
Cates explained to students that allies are heterosexual people who support the LGBTQ+ community.
“GSA is a very safe place,” Cates said. “ We make sure to emphasize that we don’t just tolerate people. We are very inclusive.”
Cates emphasized the importance of safety throughout the event, creating an atmosphere for audience members to feel comfortable voicing their opinions.
Cates and Oltmanns both shared their personal stories about coming out and encouraged audience members to participate in discussions throughout the event. The pair also prompted audience members to name common stereotypes.
Junior Samantha Yocius felt empowered listening to Cates and Oltmanns speak.
“I am an LGBTQ+ member. Knowledge is power. Getting information is always good,” Yocius said.
Yocius plans to get more involved with GSA this year. She believes there is a need for further education on problems the LGBTQ+ community face. Yocius was happy to hear Cates and Oltmanns give voice to these issues.
Oltmanns works with students in the LGBTQ+ community everyday on campus. She strives to change campus policies and helps advocate for the various minority groups at the university.
“I want to debunk assumptions and provide education for those who aren’t as acquainted with the LGBTQ+ community and the issues in it,” Oltmanns said.
Part of her goal for the event was to empower those who do consider themselves allies or members of the community.
“Just because I was invited as an expert does not mean I have all the solutions,” Oltmanns said. “I think in order to really affect change individuals have to think critically about the role they play.”