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March 5, 2013

Learn about LGBT community during Culture Week

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Written by: Carmen Huerta

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Walking through the white arches of Hepner Hall heading to and from class, it’s easy to notice great examples of diversity of ethnicities, religions and cultures coexisting on campus. San Diego State is a haven of more than 30,000 students striving to grow academically and culturally while trying to graduate on time.

However, some students fail to develop a truly well-rounded education. Interacting with individuals from different cultural backgrounds makes students more worldly and gives them a better understanding of their peers. We live in a society where employers don’t want to hire ethnocentric employees. They seek those with an academic edge, such as lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual major or minors who demonstrate an understanding of diversity.

SDSU’s Student Diversity Commission and the Office of Intercultural Relations will present the second annual Culture Week starting on April 22. OIR Director Tanis Starck said Culture Week will be an opportunity for students to learn about cultural values and new ideas. During this week, students can participate in events focused on social justice issues, key historical figures and celebrate diversity while enjoying food and music.

This event is meant to shine light on multiculturalism and the many cultural organizations on campus. The question is, does the LGBT community consider itself a culture?

Some might consider LGBT more of a lifestyle than a culture. Merriam-Webster defines lifestyle as “the typical way of life of an individual, or culture.” Culture is defined as “the customary beliefs, social forms and material traits of a racial, religious or social group.”

The LGBT community doesn’t need the cultural identifiers of specific cuisines, music or rituals. The uniqueness of this culture is predominantly based on sexual orientation and identification. Individuality is emphasized and pride valued.

Culturally, the LGBT community has many common values and traditions. “Coming out” is a term used when an individual identifies himself or herself as LGBT. It’s a right of passage for many and unfortunately, it’s not an easy road for everyone. The LGBT community is built on the value of oneself, respecting differences and loving your neighbors.

Students can do their parts by visiting the LGBT booth during Culture Week, asking questions and becoming involved in the conversation. Push for the implementation of LGBT student representatives in student organizations on campus to answer questions on LGBT issues. Become an SDSU ally and work to improve the campus climate.

Psychology junior Yamille Bassi said steps such as these will bridge the gap between LGBT issues and multiculturalism.

Bassi, an executive member of LGBT Student Union and a member of the first national lesbian sorority Ghamma Rho Lambda, said she wants to show SDSU’s faculty, staff and students what the LGBT community is all about.

Culture Week is a great opportunity to show students diverse perspectives and take cultural learning outside the classroom.

Starch said it is a way for “students to discuss a sense of community and become more integrated into SDSU through the celebration of all our different cultures.”

The introduction of the LGBT studies major at SDSU gave the LGBT community academic and cultural recognition. SDSU is one of the top-ranking LGBT-friendly campuses in the California State University system.

“Its not just about who we are attracted to,” Bassi said. “It’s also a culture. Prepare yourself for a week-long cultural journey.”

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Carmen Huerta


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