November 2, 2021
By Ulysses Smith, Staff Writer
Elves, horses, lions, and lavender. The LGBTQ+ oriented support group, The Lavender Project, came together for a Halloween themed costume brunch. The coalition of LGBTQ+ faculty, administrators, staff and students gathered outside the Laney bistro on October 27th to expand and support a network for LGBTQ+ students.
Staff and students alike noticed a need for a LGBTQ+ based support group at Laney College after discovering that one did not exist. The event was designed for students to know there is a dedicated group of people on campus, making sure that students know that they are not alone. One of the Lavender project’s efforts is to build a more permanent presence here at Laney, creating an official representative entity for the LGBTQ+ community.
The organizer of the event Mallory Barkdull said that she hoped to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ students. She added “a lot of queer and trans people grow up, kind of having to hide a lot of who they are. And I think it’s important for us, as faculty and as staff and as employees here, to say you know you don’t have to hide at Laney.”
Student Trustee Micah Cooper, who attended the event had much to say about LGBTQ+ representation on campus and district. This was their first time collaborating with the Lavender Project and also expressed a desire for events like these to become cemented at Laney as well.
The event also was the first event thrown by The Lavender Project since COVID hit nearly two years ago. In the initial planning stages they thought of a harvest festival or a straight up Halloween party for outreach. The organizers then came to the conclusion that a costumed tea party was the best idea. Taking to the idea of inclusion, they decided to make it a hybrid event, the party was live streamed through zoom and had some in person faculty, students and staff.
“I think that LGBTQ plus visibility in the Peralta district is not as strong as it could be,” said Cooper.
Trustee Cooper also added that their role as a student trustee is trying to bring visibility to issues facing the student body as a whole, but their voice is not enough. “You know, sometimes you really feel like you’re being looked at as just the one token person from a group complaining and not as someone bringing some really significant insight.” Meetings like these are a way for students to consolidate issues that their community faces and commit to organize a safe space for those affected by those issues.
This event is important because it’s the first step in actualizing an official LGBTQ+ presence here at Laney and the district as a whole. Rudy Besikof the Laney College President, even made an appearance marking the significance of this event’s potential. These are for people who feel the same way to congregate and learn to mitigate or dismiss those feelings entirely. This is an event that made it clear that LGBTQ+ presence will be here and could use some support.
Photo editing done by Ivan Chairez, Photo Editor.
An earlier version of this article contained a misquoting. The correct quote reads “a lot of queer and trans people grow up, kind of having to hide a lot of who they are.”