By Nicole Fernandez | Staff Writer
On Wednesday, the first LGBTQ+ & Allies Safe Space Social event was held in ʻIliahi 123, where those in the LGBTQ+ community and supporters were invited to meet others like them and find out about resources that are available to them.
LGBTQ+ C4ward (pronounced “see forward”), which is essentially a club for faculty to address issues at KCC, and Student Affairs sponsored the event, providing free snacks and drinks to attendees. Rachel Lindsey, a professor of Human Anatomy/Physiology at KCC, is the concierge (president) for LGBTQ+ C4ward and organized the event with the idea of garnering attention to the issues LGBTQ+ members face.
“The LGBTQ+ C4ward met earlier this semester to discuss our goals,” Lindsey said, “and engaging the community was top of the list.”
Representatives from organizations such as the UH Mānoa LGBTQ+ Center and the Hawaiʻi Health and Harm Reduction Center (HHHRC) were invited to discuss what their association is, how they support or are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and share a little about themselves personally.
Maiana Minahal is one such representative. She has been teaching English at KCC for eight years and is the co-commissioner of UH Commission for LGBTQ+ Equality. The founder and former concierge of the LGBTQ+ C4ward, Minahal created the team after she arrived at KCC and noticed the lack of awareness and events catered to LGBTQ+ students and faculty.
“I came here, and it was like, how come I don’t see a lot of work around LGBTQ issues?” Minahal said. “So, I thought that the C4ward would be a good way to start generating interest and [getting] people, not just students, interested in the issue and through that, supporting students.”
Minahal and her family immigrated from the Philippines when she was 6 years old. She said she understood she was queer when she was young, and having been through a lot with her family and in society, is now part of a queer community that has provided the strong support that she is eager to bring to the next generation of teenagers and young adults.
While there were several students in attendance, none of them were comfortable enough to speak to the media about themselves. One female student, who asked to remain anonymous, did admit that she was glad KCC was LGBTQ+ friendly.
“[Hawaiʻi] is liberal, so it’s great that we can do this kind of stuff here,” she said while smiling down at her rainbow lei Lindsey had passed out. “I like it here even more.”