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LGBTQ+ Conference at Stetson Attracts More Than 100

Stetson University was the first private liberal arts institution to host the Florida Collegiate Pride Coalition Conference last weekend, attracting about 140 participants to hear speakers and raise awareness of the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

The three-day event, Inside Out, featured various keynote speakers and mental health care providers who focused on mental health and other disparities within the LGBTQ+ community. The conference brought together individuals from several Florida universities, with the goal of enriching them both inside and out.

With topics such as achieving equity in a divided and complex time, interpersonal violence in the LGBTQ+ community, and navigating the intersection of sexuality and spirituality with LGBTQ+ individuals, the conference addressed a variety of issues related to sexuality and gender.

Such topics are crucial to the LGBTQ+ community, Stetson student Luis Melecio-Zambrano asserted, focusing on the ways in which society makes assumptions about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community.

“For example, sex, as we define it, is a social construct,” Melecio-Zambrano stated, bringing attention to yet another important topic of discussion at the FCPC Conference: How biological is gender?

Dayna Chaname-Matos is a member of the FCPC Conference student committee and president of Stetson's LGBTQ+ organization Kaleidoscope.

Dayna Chaname-Matos is a member of the FCPC Conference student committee and president of Stetson’s LGBTQ+ organization Kaleidoscope.

Furthermore, Melecio-Zambrano described the conference as fun. With a social event, a drag performance, and a one-man show, the FCPC Conference featured a blend of thought-provoking discussions and entertainment.

For Dayna Chaname-Matos, member of the FCPC Conference student committee and president of Stetson’s LGBTQ+ organization Kaleidoscope, the event was important because of how it will affect Stetson itself.

“As a Stetson student, this means a lot because we’re the first private university to actually have the conference. It pushes forward the boundaries of our university.”

Chaname-Matos said she is proud to be at Stetson at a time when hosting an event like this is possible, and she hopes that other LGBTQ+ students will be able to grow from participating in the conference.

“I hope they get the skills they need for coping,” she mentioned, focusing on the struggles that LGBTQ+ college students might be facing. “It should give them an outlet of people who understand some issues that they could be going through.”

Cecil Chik is Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Stetson University.

The FCPC Conference was a big success, conference organizers said.

According to Cecil Chik, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Stetson University, about 140 participants attended the event — a significantly higher number of people than at last year’s conference hosted by the University of Florida. Because of this, the conference required a sizable planning committee and many months of preparation. Chik described the experience as both exciting and overwhelming.

She said she would definitely be open to hosting the conference again in the future, if given the opportunity.

Reflections on Pulse

The 2017 FCPC Conference took place almost ten months after a gunman shot and killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub, a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando. To commemorate the lives lost, a vigil was held at the conference that featured images of the Pulse Memorial along with a reading of the names of the victims.

Furthermore, John T. Super, Ph.D., a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida who assisted with counseling in Orlando immediately following the shooting, and Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse, spoke at the event.

“We’ve picked up our lives and gone in different directions, but we don’t forget,” Super said. “The community will not forget, the nation will not forget, and I don’t believe the world will forget what happened there. But we will go on.”

Almost a year has gone by since the Pulse shooting, but the event, as well as the many lives lost, will always hold a place in history.

-Naomi Thomas

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