For the past week, Ball State and the Muncie community have welcomed open conversations about biases, stereotypes and oppression with the 39th annual Unity Week.
For Brooklyn Arizmendi, the president of Spectrum, the last seven days were an opportunity to tell students and community members about the LGBTQ community and the hardships it faces today.
“Unity Week is so important for all of us as a reminder that many of our fights are not over,” Arizmendi said. “Our fight didn't end with marriage equality, and we continue to face discrimination, familial rejection, lack of resources, higher rates of suicide, etc.”
With the Unity Week event, Queer Monologues, Arizmendi said Spectrum was able to show audience members, through a theatrical performance of coming out stories, what the LGBTQ community looks like “beyond the heteronormative lens.”
“[Queer Monologues] was a little challenging as we have to make sure we are articulating the stories in a way everyone can understand,” Arizmendi said. “However, as queer individuals, we are always explaining ourselves to heterosexual and cisgender people, so it's definitely not a foreign concept.
“In fact, many of us go classroom to classroom and talk about our identities for educational purposes. I think it's a lot of fun and really builds upon some good conversations to be had.”
Through educational events during Unity Week, such as Queer Monologues, Bobby Steele, the director of the Multicultural Center, students get different opportunities to learn about the diverse experiences of others around campus.
“It is important to provide such opportunities and experiences for better understanding, personal growth and an inclusive campus community,” Steele said. “We hope that Ball State has become a more inclusive space because people who attend these events and become more aware of these issues demonstrate their awareness through their actions toward one another.”
By continuing to have these opportunities and conversations across campus even after Unity Week has passed, Arizmendi said, students and community members begin to break down the stereotypes and biases they may have had.
“It's so exciting to be able to tell our stories and for people to openly hear them and ask important questions,” Arizmendi said. “It builds upon our community as well as Ball State and Muncie as a whole.”
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