Keene State holds accepting hand to LGBT community

Keene State College hosts a wide variety of clubs, groups and organizations on campus. As the diversity of the student population increases, those in the  lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender community show little to no hesitation toward their comfort with their sexuality on campus.

Friday, October 11, 2013, was International Coming Out Day, described on the event’s Facebook page as “an international event which gives LGBT people the opportunity to ´come out´ to others about their sexuality. It also raises awareness of the LGBT community and LGBT rights movement.”

This movement sparked violent rallies in St. Peterburg, Russia. According to  Andri Antoniades of Takepart.com, anti-gay protesters formed a human chain disabling gay rights activists entering the park.

Emma Contic / Graphics Editor

Emma Contic / Graphics Editor

On the other side of the world in Keene, New Hampshire, feelings toward public displays of affection are mixed, but they are not violent by any means.

KSC senior Matthew Carson said, “I don’t really care who shows affection. If you have someone of a significant other that you want to show affection to, go for it,” he continued, “just don’t make it gross.”

One of the possible reasons for this general acceptance at the college may be the group KSC Pride.

According to the KSC website, KSC Pride is an organization on campus that “provides a safe, relaxed, social atmosphere for lesbians, gays bisexuals and others, providing a forum for discussions and concerns.”

KSC junior Jonathan Musci attended the pride meetings as a freshman and said that having a group of people who are accepting was a big help in his transition at college.

“It’s a really cool group,” Musci said. “It’s nice being in a room full of people who understand you on a level that not everyone can.”

KSC junior Sarah Bruno has also attended some of the meetings.

She said they help get students out of their shell using activities and ice-breakers.

Bruno said she views the group as a place for her and others to prepare themselves for ‘the real world,’ learning to deal with situations and circumstances they may face as individuals who have come out to society about their orientation.

“[KSC Pride] helps you get comfortable with a group of people that have gone through the same things as you and feelings of not being one hundred percent confident with your sexuality. It’s a way, I think, to prepare you for being yourself out in the real world and on campus, not being afraid to express your identity,” Bruno said.

Bruno added that she considers KSC to have a bigger community of LGBT students than other schools she has seen.

“There are a lot of gay people. I feel like we are almost used to seeing that kind of thing,” Bruno said of LGBT public displays of affection.

“It’s not as frowned upon at our school because of the fact, I don’t know statistics, but I think that there are a lot more gays and lesbians here than I’ve seen at other colleges.”

Musci commented similarly to Carson on the notion of public displays of affection, or PDA, on the campus, and said students must remain within some boundaries.

“I think that PDA is acceptable to a degree,” Musci said.

“Like holding hands, hugging, a kiss here and there is not a problem. Taking it too far and going intensely at it is not really that acceptable. I think there is a better place and time for that,” Musci said.

Musci said that he and a boyfriend used to “walk around holding hands and give each other a kiss before we went into class,” and they never got called out on it.

Carson commented and said it is because KSC offers a comfortable community that students like Musci who choose to display their affection are not bothered by other students.

 

“We offer a lot of after-school groups and a bunch of stuff on campus that people can do. I’ve never met someone who has been severely rude to me about it, so I think we’ve done an excellent job of providing a comfortable environment for the community,” Carson said.

But Bruno, who claimed to not be a huge fan of PDA, expressed more of a sense of privacy.

“There should be a certain amount of privacy with your expression of love,” she said.

“I do see mixed emotions,” Bruno said of PDA reactions.

She said she would be comfortable holding hands on campus if she was in a relationship with someone.

Of course, the campus is not perfectly tolerant of everything and anything. While students stated their general comfort, some have experienced some intolerance.

“I have seen two guys holding hands and then a group of other guys negatively talking about it,” Bruno said.

She has also seen a different response, where people have said “Oh they are so cute.”

“It really depends on your group of friends,” she said.

Musci and Bruno both agreed that KSC being a liberal arts school may be why the general atmosphere that is brought to campus is really accepting.

“It could have to do with the fact that we’re in the Northeast or in New Hampshire at a liberal arts school,” Musci said. Whatever the reason may be, KSC’s accepting nature shows.

 

Kenzie Travers can be contacted at  mtravers@keene-equinox.com

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