I have not informed you of the many achievements of the LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman of our organization so far this year.
We continue to reach out to the CNU LGBT community in an effort to provide alumni, current students and staff with a venue for dispersing information, support, and general discussions.
Highlights from this year include:
- “Meet, Greet, and Eat” event at the Highlander Center in New Market, TN. Our group discussed plans for this year; including participation in the Knoxville PrideFest Celebration, the 2015 Scholarship, the creation of t-shirts to be sold in order to raise money for the scholarship fund, updates on the weekly LGBT Student Social-Support Group, and ongoing efforts to build bridges with CNU so that current LGBTQPA students will have a safe, supportive, and affirming experience at Carson-Newman.
- T-shirts for sale!! A member of our LGBT Student Social-Support Group created an amazing design that we used on t-shirts, which we sold to members in an effort to raise money for our scholarship fund. There was a great deal of interest in the t-shirts. Though I cannot recall the exact figure of how many t-shirts were sold, I can say that I believe this is a excellent way to raise money for the scholarship and plan to use it in the future.
- We greatly increased our presence and participation in the Knoxville PrideFest celebration this year. Not only did we have a booth, where we distributed literature concerning the LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman, but we also raised quite a bit of money for our scholarship fund. This year we created a package that booth visitors could enter to win. The package included 2 Dollywood passes; a a lovely, handmade dichroic-glass necklace (provided by artist John Mayfield-Stewart and his husband Joie Mayfield-Stewart; and two rainbow flags that can be attached to a car’s rear windows to support the LGBT community. A donation was requested, but not mandatory to enter the drawing for the package.
Another favorite (and profitable) booth fundraiser was face-painting. Several of our art students painted dozens of flowers, rainbows, and other designs on faces, chests, wrists, etc.
All-told, we raised well over $400 at the booth this year.
- This year we participated in the Knoxville PrideFest Parade. We had about 20 marchers; all wearing the 2015 LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman T-shirts. A large banner was carried in front of the group (see image above). In addition to the marchers our group was very lucky to have one of Knoxville’s legendary female illusionists, Shannon DeVaughn. Shannon rode in the backseat of a 1970 Cadillac convertible–looking radiant and regal. Many people literally ran out into the street to hug and have their pictures taken with Shannon as she passed through the throngs lining each side of Gay Street. To top off our participation in the parade, our marchers threw rainbow bracelets and flags to parade attendees.
Next year we’ll have to think very hard to come up with a way to top this year’s PrideFest.
- The LGBT Student Social-Support Group has been a great success. We routinely have between 8 and 20 students who attend each week. The group has been so popular that beginning Aug. 2015, we decided to hold the group twice a week (Tues and Thurs) so that more students could attend.
- Because of the hard work and dedication of the LGBT Alumni of CN members we were able to award two, $1,000 scholarships this Fall semester. Applicants had to fill out an application explaining their financial need, participation in the LGBT community, and other factors that would make them worthy recipients. Richard Allen, who was completely rejected by his family after he came out, was one of the winners. Another very deserving recipient, who is not out to his family, also impressed the scholarship committee with his scholastic achievements and community work.
One area of concern that a couple of our students are facing is marriage. These two students plan to be married to their partners in 2016. CNU and the Tennessee Baptist Convention may not recognize their marriage. As I understand it, it is within their First Amendment Rights to not recognize any marriage between two people of the same gender. And since the Code of Conduct at CNU forbids sexual relationships outside of marriage, there could be problems for these students. I have reached out to administration to see how this issue will play out at CNU. There are no clear answers at this point.
The LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman continues to reach out to students and staff in order to provide emotional and concrete services. We could not do this without the financial support of our members and their friends and family
If you would like to be a part of helping our organization, you may mail a check (made payable to LGBT Alumni of CN) to:
525 Renford Rd.
Knoxville, TN 37919
You may also contribute via PayPal. Just go to their website and look for us (firstname.lastname@example.org)