Candle Light Vigil

Members of Common ground met in front of of the Bell Tower Monday Oct. 12 in honor of Matthew Shepard following Gay Pride Weekend.

            The month of October marks the LGBTQ+ pride and history month. It is a month to highlight the history of this group of individuals as well as show pride in different identities.

            LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex asexual and pansexual. However, these terms do not cover every identity.

            In recent years, a movement has formed to gain more rights for the LGBTQ+ community. The movement has made strides towards success with the recent legalization of gay marriage in the United States.

            Here at Northwest, Common Ground is an organization that shares this goal for acceptance and freedom. Throughout October, Common Ground will be hosting events at Northwest to promote the significance of the LGBTQ+ movement.

            “Common Ground is the queer ally coalition on the Northwest campus,” said Common Ground President Korbin Jones. “Our main goals are to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for both queer and allied individuals on campus who are both out and not out …  and to have a safe place to talk about things. We also focus on trying to make the surrounding community and the campus itself more LGBT+ friendly by doing informational events, fundraisers and things like that.”

            Monday, Oct. 12 Common Ground hosted a candlelight vigil to honor the life and legacy of Matthew Shepard.

            “My favorite event was the vigil, because Matthew Shepard didn't die in vain. His legacy lives on and I am proud that I get the chance to share his life with those around me,” sophomore Makenna Deckert said.

            Common Ground also held a fundraiser last week called Supporting Hands.

            “Common Ground is working with Multicultural Student Success for two events. Right now, we are doing Supporting Hands (and) we are raising money. 50 percent (of the funds) will go to our organization and 50 percent will go to the women’s and family shelter in town,” said Jones. “The other thing we’re doing is we are having the first ever, as far as I know, Pride March. That will take place Oct. 29 and will go from the bell tower to the pavilion.”

            Sophomore Brittany Coppock serves as the Events Coordinator for Common Ground and discussed various events taking place this month.

“With Multicultural Student Success, we are planning to have a coffee talk over LGBTQ+ information at the info booth in the union from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 28,” said Coppock. “Oct. 29, we are having our biggest event of the month at 6 p.m. We will have our Pride March starting at the Memorial Bell Tower and ending at the College Park Pavilion where we will have free food courtesy of the (office of) Multicultural Student Success.”

            Common Ground serves many different purposes depending on the person and the reason for joining depends on the individual.

            “I joined the organization because I am very much an activist and I like fighting for equality, and I’m still with the organization because I love what it stands for and I love how it brings people together for the greater good,” said Jones.

            Coppock joined Common Ground for reasons similar to Jones.

            “I joined this organization a year ago because, as an openly gay woman, I am a huge advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and our rights,” said Coppock. “I take comfort knowing that we have a safe place on campus for students to go and be who they are without fear of judgement.”

            No matter the reason for joining, Common Ground is a place for Northwest students to gather without fear of ridicule. Common Ground offers a welcoming environment and is open to anyone wishing to join.

            “Common Ground is definitely for people who aren't sure who they are. As I said, you don't have to identify as queer or gay or transgender or anything to join, because we have members who don't know what they identify as and we accept that and I think that is one of the great qualities of Common Ground. Wherever you are in life, whatever you identify as, we accept you,” Jones said.

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