By: Salina Madrid
The LGBT program at New Mexico State University is working together to help students overcome life’s obstacles.
The program is committed to the success and wellness of the NMSU community, striving to make a difference in others lives.
“We want students to know that they have a place here at NMSU,” said Zooey Sophia Pook, the Senior Program Specialist of LGBT. “I think that the most important thing we can do for them is create policies and environments where they can be free to express themselves.”
They want to welcome all students to attend their events and to utilize their facilities, which includes their computer labs, library and lounge.
This month they are hosting their second annual Diversity Coming Out Month, which they like to call OUTober.
“We are excited that we are able to create cultural events to promote different ways of life here at NMSU,” said Pook. “This is important to me because this event helps us create awareness and a presence at the university.”
All events are free and spread out throughout the month of October.
This month is dedicated to the celebration of the way of life. OUTober events include the following:
Alianza of New Mexico on October 5, from 2 to 5 p.m.
They will offer free rapid health screenings, with accurate results within 20 minutes. This will take place in the LGBT Programs office in Garcia Annex Room 235.
Guest Speaker Candace Gingrich on October 12, at 7:00 p.m.
Gingrich will speak at the Corbett Center Student Union Auditorium about her life experiences, her success, and the obstacles she has had to face. She is the sister of prominent politician, New Gingrich, and an advocate of LGBT programs for over 20 years. She is the youth and campus engagement program associate director for the Human Rights Campaign, which is a civil rights organization. She is also the author of an autobiography titled, “The Accidental Activist.”
Showing of the movie “Tangerine” on October 19, at 7:00 p.m.
A comedy-drama directed by Sean Baker will be shown at the Creative Media Institute Digital Media Theatre in Milton Hall. This movie focuses on the lives of two transgender characters.
The 2nd Annual Halloween Drag Show on October 26, at 7:00 p.m.
This event will be at the Corbett Center Student Union Auditorium and will be hosted by national pageant queen, Eva Alicia Jane. It will also feature many other performers from around New Mexico.
The Haunted Healthcare Party on October 31, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Campus Health Center will be open for two hours to promote equality and diversity. Health screenings will be available. The party will include free food and games.
According to Pook, the Campus Health Center has been extremely supportive of the LGBT program.
Statistics show that LGBT communities are the most un-presented people in our country in regards to health care and health disparity.
With the Campus Health Center being so supportive of the health of these individuals, health care for them has increased at NMSU by 300 percent.
“Having our health center open its doors to everyone of all sexual and gender identities is remarkably important. It is important to create that awareness and inclusion where people feel comfortable enough to go back,” said Pook.
LGBT wants to hear the needs of their students, faculty and staff to make ways to make them feel more comfortable. Because of this NMSU now has the “Preferred Name Rule,” which is a bill that Pook wrote that allows all students to represent their first name any way they see fit.
This has been in effect since the fall semester of 2016 and according to Pook has been great for all students.
Students are able to choose their first name on their ID cards, rosters, canvas, their email, etc.
“We wanted to get this policy across to benefit the students overall experience,” said Pook. “I was really excited to put that forward for our campus community.”
Max Meyer, a transfer student and the president/co-founder of Gender Diverse Aggies says that this program has given him a purpose in life.
“At first, I felt like I didn’t really fit in here, I was really lacking a purpose. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, but having the LGBT group gave me a way to help people, a way to improve the school, and it has given me a voice. All of this is so important to me,” said Meyer.
This student organization provides a safe and supportive space for gender non-conforming students to talk about their expression and gender identity. It allows them to be provided with resources that they need to make their experience at NMSU as smooth as possible.
Meyer has been with the program for 2 years now and is graduating in May. His main goal is to help students accept themselves and be comfortable in their own skin.
“You have to love yourself, be yourself and accept yourself because nobody else will if you don’t,” said Meyer. “The more confidence that you project within your identity, the more others will pick up on that.”
Gender Diverse Aggies is here to inform the public and wants people to be educated.
Meyer wants others to understand that, “the fear comes from not knowing, not understanding and misconceptions.”
LGBT at NMSU wants all students, faculty, and staff to become more involved with the program.
“We want others to know that there is a LGBT organization here for everyone that is struggling. We want to help people and we want people to get involved,” said Nadia Montoya, the president of the new program The AgGay’s.
Students from all backgrounds can participate and promote diversity around NMSU and with this program.
“Everyone is welcome here. Even if you are straight, we want you to be whoever you want to be. You don’t have to identify yourself, just come here and talk to us. We are trustworthy and nice people,” said Montoya.
For more information on the LGBT program at New Mexico State University and the events for the month of OUTober, call 575-646-7031 or email email@example.com.