Alumni, guests and friends wrote down experiences, emotions, and coming out stories on the rainbow flag.
Courtesy: Vlad P.

Alumni from APU who either associate with or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer hosted “Speak OUT!” Tuesday, Oct. 8 at West Campus’ prayer wall.

The event catered to current students, alumni and friends of alumni who wanted to speak out about their experiences with their sexuality and related support and discrimination.

Speak OUT! addressed the diversity statement at APU and how alumni felt they were not accepted nor supported while at APU, especially in light of the recent departure of Dr. Adam Ackley, a transgender theology professor.

Performers used various talents in order to express their experiences at APU and elsewhere. Some read poems that they had written or were by famous poets such as Maya Angelou. There were also covers of songs such as Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing.” Alumni shared testimonies about their coming-out experiences and where they currently are in their lives.

“They [current students] are a part of a collective culture who need to hear the stories and history of the students who came before them,” said an anonymous alum who graduated in 2011.

Several students attended the event but alumni suggested they leave because Interim Chief of Campus Safety, Terry Meyer, was at the event along with an unidentified campus safety officer who received a call about an unauthorized event on campus.

An event organizer said the campus safety officer took photos of the event and was in contact with his office in an attempt to shut down the unauthorized event. Because people met peacefully, they were allowed to continue.

The event was originally scheduled to occur on Citrus College, the event organizers changed the location to APU at the last minute without authorization from the administration.

Although some students decided to leave, several who stayed said the event had a great impact on them.

“It is a timeless thing. It is important to know about the people who came before you and [to help] the people who will come after you,” said Caitlin Martin, a junior psychology major who is involved with Haven, the unofficial LGBTQ club.

The alumni addressed APU’s diversity statement because they felt the university was not standing by its statement by letting go of Ackley.

APU’s diversity statement states: “We support a diverse university across lines of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, socioeconomic status, class, age, and ability.”

The alumni also made it known that they are available to support current students who may be having difficulty on campus.

“APU can’t control—and shouldn’t have to—the opinions, viewpoints, or the conversations that go on between their students because they are not directly connected to that,” said Martin about the challenges with the diversity statement. “Maybe just being sensitive about the conversations in chapel or training of faculty, staff and leadership positions to be sensitive and not make us feel ostracized or isolated. If I am in class and we are talking about it, it’s always like ‘those people, the homosexuals,’ but we’re here.”