LGBT Community Speaks

AMES, Iowa— The halls of the Memorial Union were alive as group after group piled in under a welcoming of vibrant rainbow flags.  Hundreds from around the nation Friday, Feb.10 through Sunday, Feb. 12 came together for the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC).

The MBLGTACC Conference took on the theme “The Butterfly Effect, Evolution to Revolution.”  This is the third time that ISU has hosted MBLGTACC.  The numbers were at their highest for 2012.  Thao Pham, Workshops Coordinator for the conference, estimated the attendance reached 1,700.  Students traveled to Iowa for the goal of expanding identity knowledge and understanding.

Workshops were stacked throughout the weekend.  Friday night opened the conference with several performances and speakers at Stephens Auditorium.  The audience fell quiet as the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus vocal power transfixed the auditorium.  ISU’s Dub H worked the stage with hip-hop dance. Interludes were filled with pulsing music. Stephens was an ocean of dance.

The keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, brought the audience to their feet and applause filled the air.

“I talk about courage when I speak. Backstage I was thinking how I could be courageous tonight.  I have been living with HIV since 1997. And I have never said that in a keynote,” Washington said.

Iowa has seen awareness of the LGBT community grow.  Gay marriage was legalized.  Iowa State welcomed record numbers at MBLGTACC.  Societal reactions are changing, according to Anna Howie, ISU LGBT Alliance President.

“There’s two perspectives-you guys are here, and I am here. It is very neutral. And then there are those that are very happy to have us here.  Since I have been here [ISU] it seems as though the negativity has gone down a lot,” said Howie.

But, all is not perfect for the homosexual community at ISU. More visibility of the LGBT community is necessary within Iowa State, Pham said.

MBLGTACC is a step for greater awareness.

“There are a lot of people that want it to be known that they are very proud that they are some people fighting for change,” said Howie.