Assembly Welcomes Gay Students

Adelle FontanetUNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA – UF leaders received naked golden dolls Wednesday night as rewards for their activism in the gay and lesbian community.
The dolls were doled out during a welcome assembly in the Reitz Union for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning students. The event, titled Queer Television Awards 2006: LGBTQ Welcome Assembly, modeled itself after an entertainment awards show.
UF’s Pride Student Union and the LGBT Affairs branch of the Dean of Students Office sponsored the event.
Anais Escobar, speaker’s bureau chairwoman for PSU, said the event was meant to help freshman LGBT students discover the services available to them at UF.
The evening took on a light-hearted tone as students acted out movie parodies like “V! for Vagina” and “Mean Gays.”
Phillip Harden, treasurer for PSU, said the event cost around $900 to produce.
About 10 students and UF officials received mock awards at the event. Student Body President John Boyles earned the prize for “Most Adorable SG Official.”
Boyles encouraged students to “be a part of this community” by educating each other and the university at large about multicultural issues.
While Boyles talked about the future, UF President Bernie Machen discussed how far UF has come in confronting LGBTQ issues.
Since he arrived at UF in 2004, he said, he has worked to advocate inclusion within UF’s community. After a climate survey showed gay students felt uncomfortable on campus, he created a position for LGBTQ affairs.
Several students performed skits during the event. One student wore jeans and half a skirt to represent both Romeo and Juliet.
He recited monologues from both doomed characters during his performance, which was eventually voted the best one of the evening.
Nora Spencer, the new director of UF’s LGBT Affairs, said she feels like gay people are “everywhere.”
“I think most of the world is gay,” she said with a laugh.
Tamara Cohen, assistant dean of students and director of multicultural and diversity affairs, echoed other speakers’ concerns. She said UF needs to be open to gay issues if it wants to become a top-ranked university.
“Always be proud of the gay in Gator Nation,” she told students at the assembly.
from The Independent Florida Alligator

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