October 11, 2012 was National Coming Out Day, which in turn, made it the perfect day for BMCC to kick-off its celebration of LBGTB Awareness Month.
This year’s theme is “Evolving Toward Equality,” and BMCC staffers, faculty members and students attended the Opening Day Luncheon in Richard Harris Terrace.
The event was co-chaired by Dean of Student Affairs Michael Hutmaker and his colleague Iris Wangpataravanich.
“This event celebrates those who are proud of who they are,” said Hutmaker.
Wangpataravanich acknowledged the LGBT for Success Club, which played “a big role in making this happen. This event has grown so much—we’ve evolved from having an Awareness Week to an Awareness Month.”
Know your history
At the Luncheon, musician Vincent DiGeronimo entertained the crowd on guitar while a slideshow showcased BMCC students modeling their ‘No H8’ headshots—a tribute to a national photography campaign launched by celebrity photographers Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley.
The guest speaker was lawyer and historian Richard Landman, who “marched in Albany for gay rights in 1971.”
“We learn about the past so we don’t repeat problems of the past,” he said. “When I was your age, it was illegal to have the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ in any professional titles. Women could wear pants in the 1960’s, but if a man wore a dress, he’d be arrested.”
Thankfully, Landman added, “In the last 40 years we’ve made a lot of progress, but when I was young, we had no social identity benefits. I entice you to learn your own history.”
Safe Zone allies recognized
Hutmaker and Wangpataravanich reminded students about the BMCC Safe Zone program, which provides support to members of the BMCC lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Safe Zone allies help create a more inclusive environment at BMCC and are committed to being a source of support to individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We thank our Safe Zone allies for making this community feel like a safe place,” said Hutmaker, adding, “they’ll support you, and make sure your experience here at BMCC is a good one.”
Other LGBTQ events, which run until mid-November, includes additional guest speakers, films and discussion panels, a Health and Wellness Fair, and more.
For more info, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Landman leads educational tours of historic LGBTQ landmarks in New York City; the BMCC community is invited to walk with Landman on Friday, October 26th from 12-12:30 p.m. Meet in BMCC main lobby.