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BC Allies Hold Panel Discussion On GLBTQ Issues, Being An Ally

Heights Staff

Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01


Annie Budnick / Heights Staff

This past Thursday, Oct. 18, Boston College Allies held a panel at 7:30 p.m. in Gasson 203 titled “What’s it like to be an Ally?” The panel was the kick-off event for the year for Allies, a student-led organization working to promote tolerance of GLBTQ issues on BC’s campus.

The panel consisted of three Allies: two current students—Joe Maimone, A&S ’16 and Alexa Molinaro, A&S ’15—as well as a 2012 graduate, Joseph Pasquinelli, and was moderated by Patrick Hughes, the director of design for Allies and A&S ’14. The panel came about in part as a response to the YouTube video “Make It Better for LGBT Young People.” The video, which aims to raise awareness about the bullying and harassment that Colorado GLBTQ students, particularly those in high school, are forced to endure and features a number of prominent Colorado politicians and civil leaders, both gay and straight.

David Riemer, the president of BC Allies, described the panel as a means to start a conversation. “We wanted to let people who might not ordinarily consider themselves activists see that being an Ally isn’t necessarily about political movements. It’s an attitude and a consistent, easy set of practices,” Riemer said.

The panel began with a series of questions from Hughes about what being an Ally meant to panelists, how it has played a role in their lives, and how they came to be an Ally. Each of the panelists had a unique story of how being an Ally had come to be part of their life. Whether they themselves were members of the GLBTQ community or had friends or relatives who were, all three spoke of the importance of being an Ally. According to Maimone, being an ally is about “creating a community where your sexuality isn’t so important ... it’s about creating a world where it’s just called human nature.” When asked about events in the past that had showed them how important it was to be an Ally, Molinaro recalled a time when she first arrived at school.

“[When I] got to Boston College, I heard people using derogatory words and I had to learn to stand up to friends of mine,” she said. Pasquinelli emphasized activism, as well.

“It’s not enough to work for tolerance,” he said. “Tolerance is not enough. There needs to be acceptance.”

Despite the variety of answers, each of the panelists repeatedly stressed how easy and natural it is to be an Ally.

Allies’ eventual goal, in the words of Riemer, “is to cease to exist, but until then our events usually aim to facilitate discussions within the student body and raise awareness about issues in the LGBT community.” Allies will be holding events throughout the year, including the “You Are Loved Chalk Project,” which has been rescheduled to this coming Friday due to rain.

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