Provost Committee on LGBTQ Concerns hosts ‘Beyond Visibility’ luncheon

By Madison Johnston

The Chancellor and Provost Committee on LGBTQ Concerns hosted “Beyond Visibility,” a luncheon on Friday that invited all LGBTQ employees and graduate students of the University for a short panel followed by roundtable discussions.

The topics focused mainly on professional development and mentoring. The panel featured Alejandro Gómez, clinical counselor at the Counseling Center; Liz Hsaio-Wecksler, associate professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering; Cris Mayo, associate professor of Education and Policy, Organization, and Leadership; and Daniel Maroun, Ph.D. candidate in the French department.

Mentoring was one of the many topics discussed by the panel. Daniel Maroun believes his experience in graduate school was the ideal situation.

“I am the son of two different parents from the Middle East and the only outcomes in your life are becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a priest, or getting married. So for them to have a gay son who was getting a Ph.D. in French Literature, it was very new waters for them but they didn’t seem to want to tread it so deeply,” Maroun said.

Maroun said he was introduced him to LGBT research that he still does today during his time as a graduate student.

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“He founded my passion for want to spread equality, solidarity and the desire to know what real mentorship can mean and how I can start to light the fire within students that we come into contact with daily…and how they really want that connection and visibility,” Maroun said.  

Later on, among the roundtable discussions, the idea of “being present” resurfaced from the panel and the Assistant Director of the LGBTQ Resource Center on campus, Devon Guidoux, elaborated on the topic.

Guidoux explained that getting involved in different communities on campus and showing up to events is a great way to be present.  Other ways include how individuals choose to decorate their office, dorm room or backpack.

For example, having a rainbow sticker on a notebook may be a way some people can show your acceptance, Guidoux said, which may increase the comfort of a person who sees it.

“Its a small step you can take, but you don’t know the kind of impact it’s going to have,” Guidoux concluded.

The committee is launching a new circle called the LGBTQ Employee Affinity Group and is welcoming all LGBTQ University employees to attend its first meeting on March 2nd at 2pm at the Illini Union, room 404.