What It Means to Advcoate
Many times over the past four years, I’ve been asked to describe my experiences as the co-director of ASUA Pride Alliance. I’m an advocate for highlighting the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and allied (LGBTQA) community, which is why I think it’s time I recognize the people who shaped my years of involvement.
I joined Pride Alliance on my first day of college.
We are the largest organization for LGBTQA students on campus, and our goals are to provide a safe, social place for LGBTQA students while educating the wider campus community.
When I entered my first meeting, I was there to make a friend. Being a pessimist, I assumed I’d leave that meeting still feeling alone and confused. Instead, it opened the closet door – pun intended – to hundreds of people.
I’ve met people who attempted suicide because their identities were vast voids of the unknown they didn’t want to face.
I’ve met people who were disowned for coming out.
I’ve met a straight ally who cried while telling me about the bullying their friend went through.
I’ve talked to people who needed room to vent about coming out or who simply wanted to cry to someone who understood. You don’t know the beauty of someone’s breathing on the phone until you realize that this call might be the thing keeping them alive.
I’ve also met people who have come out to incredibly supportive families. I’ve met someone who explained how homophobic he was when he was younger, and now he’s grown into one of the greatest advocates for equality I’ve ever met. I’ve met people like Jen Hoefle, director of LGBTQ Affairs, who has unfailingly fueled my passion for social justice for four years.
Like college has a way of doing, the last eight semesters have changed me. Pride Alliance taught me to be a leader and an educator, fueled my commitment to working towards LGBTQA public health, and, mostly importantly, taught me where my heart will remain after I graduate.
In the LGBTQA community, we have a habit of referring to each other as "family." It’s our way of acknowledging our chosen families, the people we choose to spend our lives with.
And so, for the past four years, I say thank you to my family and invite anyone to meet their new family in our office on the fourth floor of the Student Union Memorial Center.
Photo credit: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews.org
Christina Bischoff, a UA Honors College senior studying ecology and evolutionary biology, co-directs the Associated Students of the University of Arizona's Pride Alliance and an intern with the Minority Access to Research Careers Program.
Also, mark your calendars: The Pride Alliance Discussion Series: “We’re A-Okay: Asexuality 101," begins Feb. 13. It will be held 5-6:30 p.m. in the Agave Room of the Student Union Memorial Center. Also, "50 Years: Tucson’s LGBTQ Community" will be held March 7, 7-9 p.m. at Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd. Speakers during the event are Adela Licona, an associate professor in the UA Department of English; Stephen Russell, who directs the UA Frances McClelland Institute; and Jamie Lee, a UA School of Information Resources and Library Science doctoral student.
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