Hard questions: Speakers field "queer" queries

Did you ever wonder (or do you know all too well) what it’s like to be “queer” at UVA? If so, there’s no better place or time to break the silence than the acoustically sound Rotunda Dome Room at 7pm on Thursday, January 23.
That’s when the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center (LGBTRC) is holding its next Speaker’s Bureau panel discussion. One of the most active and successful programs of the relatively new LGBTRC, the Speaker’s Bureau is composed of about 30 volunteers (including gay and lesbian undergraduates, graduate students, administrators, and people from the community at large) who organize 10-15 discussions each semester.
These informal but effective forums have no agenda, but are instead structured as interactive dialogues between panelists and audience. Panelists share personal testimonies on a wide variety of gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues, while audience members listen, learn, and ask questions ranging from the mundane to the taboo.
What’s it like to come out to your parents? What does the word "queer" really mean? Is UVA a gay-friendly environment? I suspect my best friend is a lesbian– how can I approach the subject sensitively? Does being gay affect your religious faith? These are just a few of the questions asked (but not necessarily answered) at a typical LGBT Speaker’s Bureau event.
Appropriately named “Break the Silence: LGBT Resource Center Comes Out!”, the January 23 discussion marks an important step– forward and OUT– in the development of this relatively new center. Now that LGBT, which works in conjunction with groups like the more established Queer Student Union (1972), is on firm ground, members believe that the time has come to increase visibility-– and audibility-– by inviting the university and Charlottesville communities to participate.
The goals are two-fold. “We want more people to know about the Speaker’s Bureau and to take advantage of it,” one organizer says. “We also hope that this signature program will become part of an ongoing campaign to increase awareness of the LGBT center, which remains under-recognized by the student body in general. Our aim is to reach the level of ID recognition that the Women’s Center enjoys.” 
So come out, listen and– most importantly– help break the silence. 

“Breaking the Silence: The UVA LGBT Speakers' Bureau Comes Out,” a panel discussion about queer life on Grounds, takes place at 7pm in the Dome Room of the Rotunda. All are welcome. The LGBT Resource Center helps individuals connect with students and LGBT allies on the University Grounds and in the community. 982-2843, e-mail lgbtrc@virginia.edu or visit their website at http://indorgs.virginia.edu/lgbtrc/

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