Background Collegian Ad

LGBTQ community supported through new campaign

Published: November 15, 2012, 12:43 am ET
Photo courtesy of Christopher Acquafredda
The t-shirts were “a visual representation of support,” said Ted Lewis, the university’s newly hired associate director for LGBTQ campus life.
Collegian Reporter

The Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity at the University of Richmond has developed a t-shirt and video campaign to cultivate a more inviting on-campus environment, in which LGBTQ members can feel more included, said Lydia Wang, co-president of the organization.

The campaign has been dubbed “Striving to be an Ally,” which are the same words printed across 300 navy blue T-shirts SASD ordered, Wang said. Anyone who participated in a segment for the video will receive a free shirt, she said.

The T-shirts are “a visual representation of support,” said Ted Lewis, the university’s newly hired associate director for LGBTQ campus life. “The video is the story behind that support,” he said.

The video, which is still in the production process, had already gathered about 50 participants, and the organization members would openly welcome others, Wang said.

The exchange of a T-shirt for a brief recording was an important step in regard to accountability, Wang said. “It makes it more personal,” he said.

Fellow SASD co-president Erik Lampmann said the inspiration for the video portion came from the internationally recognized It Gets Better campaign, which has captivated YouTube with nearly 50 million views and numerous submissions from celebrities, politicians and media personalities, according to the project’s website.

Instead of projecting a message of future reassurance, the SASD production would focus on promoting inclusivity in day-to-day life, Lampmann said. “We are asking people the question of ‘How are you making it better?’” he said.

The phrase, “I’m coming out as…” was printed across the back of the shirts above a large white block. SASD wanted to promote more widespread conversation about identity and saw that as being something multi-dimensional, Lampmann said. The blank could be filled with any label, ranging from an athlete or student researcher to a twin or vegetarian, he said.

“The idea is not only the process of coming out as a queer individual,” said Lampmann. “The idea is much more expansive.

We, as an organization, want to support the whole range of identification,” he said. “All of those things are vital elements to people’s development and experiences.”

Wang said the project’s organizers sought to create something more neutral to lessen the pressure associated with such a grandiose assertion. “Saying you’re an ally is a big statement,” Wang said. “But striving to be an ally allows for mistakes and leaves room for improvement,” she said.

The campaign has received support from a range of different organizations on campus, including student government associations and staff members across departments, Wang said. Members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority were also significant allies in assisting SASD with ordering the shirts, she said.

Lampmann said the organization wanted to build upon the energy generated during October’s UR Comes Out Campaign, which was sponsored by the Office of the Common Ground in celebration of LGBTQ history month. SASD came up with the idea by thinking about ways to expand that effort and awareness throughout the semester and academic year, he said.

Although SASD was involved with Common Ground in its October programming, this particular initiative could not be condensed into any particular month or program by an office, Lampmann said. “SASD is coming at it as a vital student presence throughout these conversations and wanting to continue those conservation beyond the scope of October,” he said. “That’s what led us to develop this idea.”

The organization’s vision was for a continuous, on-going movement, Lampmann said.

“We see this project as a more sustained effort at changing campus climate,” he said. “We’re making the incremental change that we think can be most significant for queer students, faculty and staff.

Fellow SASD co-president, Erik Lampmann, said the inspiration for the video portion had come from the internationally recognized It Gets Better campaign, which has captivated YouTube with nearly 50 million views and numerous submissions from celebrities, politicians and media personalities, according to the project’s website.

Instead of projecting a message of future reassurance, the SASD production will focus on promoting inclusivity in day-to-day life, Lampmann said. “We are asking people the question, ‘How are you making it better?’” he said.

The phrase, “I’m coming out as…” was printed across the back of the shirts above a large white block. SASD wanted to promote more widespread conversation about identity and saw the shirt design as being something multi-dimensional, Lampmann said. The blank could be filled with any label, ranging from an athlete or student researcher to a twin or vegetarian, he said.

“The idea is not only the process of coming out as a queer individual,” Lampmann said. “The idea is much more expansive.
“We, as an organization, want to support the whole range of identification. All of those things are vital elements to people’s development and experiences.”

Wang said the project’s organizers had sought to create something more neutral to lessen the pressure associated with such a grandiose assertion. “Saying you’re an ally is a big statement,” Wang said. “But striving to be an ally allows for mistakes and leaves room for improvement.”

The campaign has received support from a range of different organizations on campus, including student government associations and staff members across departments, Wang said. Members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority were also significant allies in assisting SASD with ordering the shirts, she said.

Lampmann said the organization wanted to build upon the energy generated during October’s UR Comes Out Campaign, which was sponsored by the Office of the Common Ground in celebration of LGBTQ history month. SASD came up with the idea by thinking about ways to expand that effort and awareness throughout the semester and academic year, he said.

Although SASD was involved with Common Ground in its October programming, this particular initiative could not be condensed into any particular month or program by an office, Lampmann said. “SASD is coming at it as a vital student presence throughout these conversations and wanting to continue those conservations beyond the scope of October,” he said. “That’s what led us to develop this idea.”

The organization’s vision was for a continuous, on-going movement, Lampmann said.

“We see this project as a more sustained effort at changing campus climate,” he said. “We’re making the incremental change that we think can be most significant for queer students, faculty and staff.”

Contact staff reporter Mara Lugo Rudner at mara.ludorudner@richmond.edu

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