Activist Brandon Wolf on the Pulse Massacre and Finding a Sense of Belonging

Hosted and produced by Morris Haywood

In this podcast, ACCENT’s Morris Haywood sits down with Brandon Wolf, an LQBTQ+ advocate and survivor of the Orlando Nightclub shooting, to talk about humanizing marginalized experiences, gun safety reform, and recent Florida legislature prohibiting instruction of sexual orientation.

Listen to the full podcast on our Anchor page.

“All the moments you think you earned your place can be ripped away,” said Wolf, “part of me wanted to find a place that would see me.”

This podcast was recorded in May of 2022.

Valentine’s Day For All

Story by Gloria Nguyen

Graphic by Kate Korepova

Edited by Pete Ramirez

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! 

Americans have been celebrating Valentine’s Day since the 19th century but the holiday became ubiquitous early in the 20th century. 

Nowhere in the world is Valentine’s Day celebrated as wildly as in the U.S. Much like during the Christmas holiday season, stores are filled with rose-colored products weeks beforehand.

Contrary to popular belief, Valentine’s Day is not just for romantic love. Your best friend, grandpa, teacher, or even your favorite colleague from the office may participate in exchanging valentines.

Valentine’s Day is ultimately about celebrating love – which at its heart involves the connection and unconditional acceptance of another.

One thing about Valentine’s Day that is slowly starting to change is that historically, there hasn’t been much room for the LGBTQ community at the table.

Supervising editor at National Public Radio, Arnie Seipel, wrote about how the origins of Valentine’s Day are heteronormative itself. 

Seipel writes that the early Romans would celebrate the feast of Lupercalia during Feb. 13 to 15 which would culminate in “a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar.” The new couple would be paired up for the duration of the festival or longer if the match was right. 

Even though our society seems to slowly make progress LGBTQ couples may feel like they are not able to be affectionate in public because of the recent surge of anti-LGBTQ laws being passed and toxic rhetoric coming from some mainstream media entities.

According to NBC News, recent FBI data suggests that “crimes based on bias against trans and gender non-conforming people continued to increase.”

The ramifications of these threats against the LGBTQ community are even being felt in colleges across the U.S. In a recent survey of LGBTQ college students published by Intelligent, 61% said they’ve experienced more discrimination since Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special aired last year, which features transphobic and homophobic jokes. 

Although Valentine’s Day does not directly help fight the day-to-day inequalities of our society, we can choose to participate in the holiday while continuing to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.

Here are some ways you can celebrate Valentine’s Day and support your local LGBTQ community.

Make Your Own Valentine’s Gifts

One way to avoid the commercialization and heteronormative standards of Valentine’s Day is to make your own valentines gifts. 

This does not necessarily need to be about your partner. Your gifts can be sent to members of your family or your chosen family and friends.

Batman & Robin illustrated on a Valentine's Day card in a kissing embrace.

Valentine’s Day has been traditionally been a holiday that companies like Hallmark have used to target straight couples with products and advertisements. In recent years, companies have begun to make their products and ads much more inclusive to the LGBTQ community.
Photo by: @proyectoalegria

Shop At LGBTQ-owned Businesses

Shopping and hanging out at LGBTQ-owned businesses is another way to directly support your local LGBTQ community. Hotel San Jose, Tamalitoz and FLAVNT are a few in Austin you can consider. Check out more at this list of queer-owned businesses in Austin that Do512 compiled.

Practice Self-care

Valentine’s Day can be triggering for people depending on their dating history. If you were in a bad relationship or experienced trauma because of your dating history, Valentine’s Day can feel even more overwhelming. 

If this is the case for you, taking care of yourself is much more imperative on Valentine’s Day than usual. 

Be kind to yourself. Take time to look in the mirror and tell yourself “I love you.” Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you feel good about yourself while you’re doing it. 

Practicing self-care should be done for yourself every day – and not just on Valentine’s Day. Remember that Valentine’s Day is just another day. Regardless of how you feel about it, your relationship status, sexual orientation or gender identity, you are valid and you will get through the day.

Surround yourself with positive people and remind yourself that love doesn’t have to look the way it is commercialized to you. 

Keep doing you. You are loved!

ACC at PRIDE Parade

Written by Ruben Hernandez
Photos by Stefanie Vermillion

The annual Austin Pride Parade is a festivity that comes once a year. From across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, the festival allows self-expression in a variety of forms from all walks of life. While the Pride Parade isn’t Austin-exclusive, locals did use this as an opportunity to hit the streets and enjoy Austin’s nightlife. Many establishments, like Apple and Google, marched to show their Pride spirit. ACC was no exception to the long list of organizations that marched through downtown Austin on September 30th.

“I think it’s of paramount importance that you celebrate Pride, especially in times like these,” second-year ACC student Jacob Silverthorne said. “The point is to be loud and proud, and to remind people that no matter what they do or if they’re trying to take away our rights, that we’re not going anywhere. We’re still going to be here.”

Pride is a big deal for many. Some see it as a way to acknowledge a group of people who may not always have the spotlight. It’s a way for people to come together for a better cause.

“The Pride Parade is a celebration of our difficult past, our current place in society, and where we are going,” first year ACC Student Patrick Rodriguez said. “I feel pride is a way for people to come together and say, ‘We are gay and we deserve an equal place in the world.’ Even though the parade has evolved into many varied forms, it still shows our diverse and varied cultures within the LGBTQ and friends community.“

Not only is it important to some that the general public celebrates Pride, it is also comforting for others to know that ACC celebrates with them. Having an entry in the parade shows that ACC is supportive to those that are members of the LGBTQ community.

“Knowing that ACC is involved regardless of the political or religious rhetoric, shows me that the school supports an equitable environment that is committed to treating all of its students with respect,” SIlverthorne said. “Just simply having ACC attend, and show their support for LGBTQ rights goes a long way in making not only me feel welcome, but also other LGBTQ students as well.”

The Pride Parade is a sight to see for many first-timers. Silverthorne believes that while it may be fun to attend, there’s a lesson that attendees should walk away with.

“If someone went to Pride and had to learn something, I think that they should learn that we’re just like everyone else – people who value our freedom,” Silverthorne said. “We also value our liberty and our ability to search for happiness in the one life that we get. LGBTQ lives are just as important as theirs, or anyone else for that matter.”

Due to weather complications from Hurricane Harvey, the Pride Parade was rescheduled. The Pride Festival is set for October 21st in Austin at Fiesta Gardens.

More photos of ACC at Pride Parade can be found on the ACC LGBT eQuity Facebook page.

Leadership and Diversity Conference

[soundcloud url=”https://soundcloud.com/accent-editor/lgbtq-conference-mixdown-3″ comments=”true” auto_play=”false” color=”ff7700″ width=”100%” height=”81″]

Story and Photos by Ryan Fotenette-Mitchell

Thought provoking conversations took center stage at the Nov. 21 Leadership and Diversity Conference. Attendees at the Highland Campus event explored lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender issues.

Austin Community College Student Life staff member Angela Roberston discussed the main objective for conference.

“So today, our intent was to challenge students to learn to love and respect one another even when they disagree,” Robertson said.

A religious panel addressed LGBTQ issues in the context of faith and Biblical references. Michael Saenz, a student at ACC, said that we should consider a more modern approach than that laid out in the Bible.

“A lot of people are basing what they believe on what was written thousands of years ago. The views that were applied then don’t apply now,” Saenz said. “If someone loves someone else, it baffles me that its illegal for them to get married.”

Robertson talked about how she challenged students to make their own opinions and beliefs, as well as having respect for people with different beliefs than them.

“There were people that were challenged. There were people that were emotional,” Robertson said.  “And that’s kind of what has to happen. We have to get uncomfortable so that we can grow.”

ACC student Elizabeth Cognetti felt called into action by the event.

“I’ve always been empathetic towards people who struggle day by day.” Cognetti said. “It makes me want to be able to stand up and really do something about it.”

 ACC holds a Leadership and Diversity Conference every year. For more information visit the Student Life website.

 

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GAY PRIDE –– By standers observe students during the LGBTQ summit. The summit was held at the ACC Highland Campus Nov. 21.

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GETTING AQUAINTED –– Keynote speaker Clint-Micheal Reneau leads the first breakout session of the day which allowed students to share their thoughts on LGBTQ issues. Most students came from different campuses for the event.

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PASSION AND POETRY — Joe Anderson of  The Mahogany project shares his story about being gay African-American man through poetry. Students sat and watched three live performances from the group.

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RESPECT FOR ALL –– Jennifer Flowers, Student Life coordinator,  stands proudly in front of the Gay Pride flag. The flag was one of many banners to represent different groups.

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COMING TOGETHER –– Students sit in the stairway to learn more about LGBTQ issues from keynote speaker Clint-Michael Reneau. Banners set around the stairway showed support for equality.