UNT Black Out Alliance aims to bridge gap between black and LGBTQ communities

UNT Black Out Alliance aims to bridge gap between black and LGBTQ communities

UNT Black Out Alliance aims to bridge gap between black and LGBTQ communities
April 12
11:21 2018

Just over a month ago, UNT students Sydney-Marie Valentine-Parris and Brooke Roberson started an organization called the Black Out Alliance as a way to bring awareness and bridge the connection between the black and LGBTQ communities due to a void of representation in this area.

Fast forward to this Monday night, and the new organization successfully hosted their very first meeting called “I’m Black and I’m PRIDE” in partnership with UNT’s NAACP chapter, with a hefty number of people in attendance.

Many of the members of the NAACP were also part of the LGBTQ community, while others were students who just came to learn more as the meeting addressed what it means to be tolerant, accepting and an ally to the LGBTQ community.

The Black Out Alliance has been met with great support and enthusiasm, especially on social media outlets such as Twitter.

“I am so ready to see the black community be an ally and advocate for another oppressed community,” political science major Eolian Ogpu said.

Valentine-Parris and Roberson are a black couple who are also part of the LGBTQ community. Their drive to create Black Out stemmed from the personal experiences they had on campus.

“During our time at UNT, we never felt like we completely fit into any of the organizations we came across,” Valentine-Parris said. “In predominantly white organizations, we felt ‘too black.’ And in predominantly black organizations, we felt ‘too gay.'”

The two quickly sought to change things on campus after they both realized they felt this way.

“UNT was missing a safe space and organization that addressed the black community and LGBTQ community at the same time,” Valentine-Paris said.

They didn’t see it, so they created it themselves.

The organization’s first gathering was only a glimpse of many more to come, as the meeting was a balance of heavy discussion with light laughter and entertaining activities.

Much of the conversation steered toward tolerance and acceptance, the differentiation between the two terms and what it means to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.

“Tolerance does not equal acceptance,” Roberson said. “A lot of people like to think that they are one and the same, but they are not. You can tolerate someone while still being homophobic and transphobic. Selective tolerance is also a thing as well, where you can feel as though you are only tolerant of one section of the community.”

The conversation also lingered while on the topic of religion and the LGBTQ community and the age-old debate of the problems between the two.

The remainder of the meeting was spent expounding on the various ways one can support and be an ally to the LGBTQ community. The list included: not tolerating disrespect and promoting respect, asking for and respecting pronouns and treading cautiously in regards to confidentiality and disclosure of another person’s sexual identity. Students murmured in agreement and snapped in place of applause as those in attendance displayed a sense of solidarity for others’ hurts, woes and triumphs.

“Being an ally is actually fighting for the community,” Roberson said.

The UNT Black Out Alliance will be hosting a general body meeting at 7 p.m. on April 23 to give students a chance to get to know more about the organization. This semester will carry most of the ground-laying foundational work that the organization needs in order to become more established.

Next semester, they plan on having bi-weekly meetings to address various black and LGBTQ topics.

“We aim to educate everyone on issues that are often swept under the rug in the black community,” Valentine-Parris said. “Specifically, we want to provide a support system because this intersection of identities is unfortunately not talked about enough, which directly leads to severe underrepresentation.”

But alongside the heavier, more serious topics, the organization will also be hosting a plethora of fun events next semester, including movie screenings, game nights and “speed meeting” — what Valentine-Parris calls the “inclusive twist on a classic.”

Although the organization seeks to the bridge the understanding between two specific communities of people, anyone is invited to come to these meetings and events.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable coming to our meetings, despite race or sexual orientation,” Valentine-Parris said.

Featured Image: The Black Out Alliance plans to facilitate inspiring events and have honest discussions to increase the growth of alliance. TJ Webb

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Claire Lin

Claire Lin

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