“Channeling Orange & Blue, but harboring feelings of red fury in the Black Community”

gay stickerAnxiety. Fear. Apprehension. Nervousness. These are the feelings that arise in many homosexuals when they come out to their family and friends. In this context and in the wake of accusations of discrimination against a fraternity on campus, Morgan State University on Tuesday night hosted an open forum,  “channel ORANGE & Blue,” about homosexuality in the African American community, in the Tyler Ballroom of the Student Center.

The event, which was hosted by Mr. Morgan, Monzona Whaley, and Morgan alumna and noted personality, Ms. Camille, opened with remarks by Kevin Banks, vice president of student affairs and President Wilson who took the podium to officially begin the forum.In one forum exercise, audience members were asked to write on an index card a slur that they have said to or about a member of the LGBT community or one that they have heard or experienced in the Morgan community.

The panel for the discussion included Anika Simpson, an associate professor of philosophy and religious studies and representative for the LGBT advisory board as well as senior, Samantha Master. Panel members and other participants discussed a number of topics affecting the LGBT community like gay marriage, adoption, and “femiphobia” – the male fear of being feminine, hypocrisy and assimilation. Students were very vocal about their positions.

Ms. Camille explained that in the LGBT community, “patience is important” when it comes to gay marriage. She said the gay community is seemingly not in as much of a rush to wed as their heterosexual counterparts.

Business accounting freshman, Eric Shale, described his plight growing up.  “Growing up in a family that was so heavily involved in the church was scary because I feared that I would lose everything if I came out,” he said.

Even the name of the forum was based on “channel ORANGE,” the debut album from openly gay black singer Frank Ocean, who in the summer of 2012 announced via his Tumblr account that he was homosexual. This revelation shocked the African American and Hip-Hop communities but Ocean, surprisingly, was received with overwhelming support from his followers, friends and others.

Channeling Orange and blue (Morgan’s official school colors) represents encompassing unity in the Morgan community. In his statement MSU President David Wilson explained that Morgan’s core values include respect, diversity, leadership and Intelligence. “We are indeed an inclusive diverse community,” Wilson said.

Wilson issued an official statement from the university Monday, after Brian Stewart, an undergraduate, last week filed a discrimination complaint against the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity when he was denied membership allegedly because of his sexual orientation.

Homophobia and discrimination because of sexual orientation remain problems in American society as a whole, Simpson explained. Discussions like the forum can be a beginning to a better tomorrow for the LGBT community, she added. A vested interest in initiating change is what she said is needed to inject different perspectives on the subject, first on Morgan’s campus, and then in the African American community.

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