Sunday, September 19, 2021

MSU Pride People of Color Coalition provides community for LGBTQ students

February 15, 2019
<p>The MSU Pride PoCC executive board in Wells Hall on February 13, 2019. Pictured are (left to right) Taylor Peterson, Brianna McClendon, Cyrin Watson, and Righteous Tipton.</p>

The MSU Pride PoCC executive board in Wells Hall on February 13, 2019. Pictured are (left to right) Taylor Peterson, Brianna McClendon, Cyrin Watson, and Righteous Tipton.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

The Pride People of Color Coalition, or PoCC, was formed at Michigan State for students of color to have a place of their own within the LGBTQIA+ community. Because the university is a predominately white institution, Public Relations and Social Curator Cyrin Watson said it's important for them to come together and form their own community. 

“That’s not to say that we can’t co-mingle with our (white) counterparts, that’s just to say there are certain things that people of color and people of color on the LGBTQIA spectrum go through that they can't necessarily relate to,” Watson said. 

The organization aims to create a place for students to build friendships and enjoy their time at MSU. In the past year, the organization has hosted several events, including a Halloween party, movie nights and study groups around mid-terms and finals. 

As a group, they try to keep close contact with other minority student organizations at MSU. Over the past few semesters, the organization collaborated with Culturas de las Razas Unidas — and the Black Student Alliance for different events. By maintaining relationships with other organizations, they are working to ensure their members’ voices are being heard in other spaces.

“We talk about the struggles that we go through as a people. It's the intersectional point — it's a minority within a minority," Camille "Righteous" Tipton, secretary for Pride PoCC, said. "Sometimes you'll be in an organization for people of color, and you'll feel like they're not talking about gay topics or LGBT topics or you'll be an LGBT organization and they’re not talking about PoC topics, and so I think the fact that we're intersectional is big for people." 

The group also takes part in a monthly meet-up called Color Me Queer, hosted by the MSU LGBT Resource Center. Color Me Queer is centered around providing a monthly discussion group for students to unwind.  

“Building community is so important for folks in their ability to matriculate and to graduate, you need to feel like you're a part of something, you need to feel like you're cared for,” Oprah Jrenal, assistant director for the LGBT Resource Center, said. 

With assistance from both student and faculty leaders, the organization is expanding to better reach students who may not feel at home on campus. Pride PoCC plans to continue fostering relationships with other organizations to help them be more inclusive to LGBTQIA+ identities. 

“You need to feel like you matter — and you actually need to matter to your institution, to your community," Jrenal said. "Making the campus smaller is why these groups, these discussion groups, these RSOs (registered student organizations) are really important, specifically for marginalized students who have identities that people are biased towards, people discriminate against.” 

The monthly discussions with Color Me Queer vary each month, but often include activities to help students meet new people, as well as serious discussions about issues for individuals and issues on campus at large.

The next Pride PoCC meeting is to be determined, and Color Me Queer meets monthly on Wednesday in room 302 of the LGBT Resource Center. 

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