Perspective: The Importance of the Lavender Fund

By: Jalen Brown, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Oct. 24  2018, Howard University hosts its fourth annual LGBTA Renaissance Reception at 6 p.m. in the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library Atrium and Lobby. This event is held to celebrate and honor LGBTQ+ students, as well as to further the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

As a gay freshman at Howard University, this event means a lot to me. Functions like this were never composed for the queer population at my high school; I slid through the cracks feeling invisible, unappreciated, and sometimes even resented. The school made absolutely no effort to recognize us, and my peers were grossly misinformed when it came to queer identities of any kind.

At Howard, there seems to be a complete shift of consciousness. I’m learning in an environment with some of the most open-minded, educated people that I’ve ever met. I’m learning in an environment with queer students who feel as if they can be themselves, with or without a label. I’m learning in an environment that doesn’t discriminate against my sexuality. And this isn’t to say that Howard is perfect by any means, nor is it to say that my experience is the same thing that every other queer student on campus is facing. But it is to say that Howard has taken strides in championing its LGBTQ+ students, and the Lavender Fund is simply a testament to this.

It is also important to note that the Renaissance Reception is raising money to provide ongoing support and scholarships for all students interested in LGBTQ+ advocacy. This is incredibly important. We don’t talk about it enough, but a lot of queer students are afraid of coming out in college because of the fear that their unsupportive parents will stop funding their education. These scholarships could be a lifesaver for LGBTQ+ students on campus, who feel as if they can’t be themselves without jeopardizing their future.

Moving forward as an openly gay student at Howard, there is a lot that I want to see happen. I want to see a Queer Studies course, and I want for my professors to stop skimming over queerness during discussions about oppression. And even though the Renaissance Reception brings me immense joy, I want to see more efforts being done by the university to support LGBTQ+ students on campus.

As I said before, queer students are the backbone of Howard University and even the backbone of radical activism. It’s about time that we be recognized as such.

October 29, 2018