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Student project focuses on coming-out stories

Brittany Mcclintock

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Melody Souphilavong leads small groups in activities during her passion project for the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center. Photo credit: Brittany Mcclintock

A passion project is as simple as the title.

For Melody Souphilavong, her passion is for the LGBTQ+ community, more specifically, coming out of the closet.

A requirement for a paraprofessional and part-time student employee for the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center is to complete a passion project. Souphilavong’s was the CCLC’s first to be presented this semester.

She started it by having everyone stand in a circle and play a game. The game required getting into pairs, and then the leader calling out two body parts for each group to touch. For example, have the pair touch their elbow to their partner’s toe.

This icebreaker game was to test how comfortable or uncomfortable people can get. If a person felt uncomfortable, they could now relate to the members of the LGBTQ+ community and how they feel every day.

After the icebreaker, Souphilavong had everyone break up into small groups to discuss their intersections. An intersection defined by Google is the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Once the small groups shared, she had a few people share with everyone in the room. A lot of people discussed their sexuality and the fluidity of it.

Krystle Tonga, an assistant program coordinator at the CCLC, discussed how she may identify as a lesbian, but she can appreciate a good-looking man.

“You can admire the canvas,” Tonga said. “But that doesn’t mean you want to take it home.”

Souphilavong once again had everyone split up in small groups based on what LGBTQ+ fact they felt most related to them. The discussion brought about some tears and touching material.

The conclusion of the passion project was a star activity. Each point of the star had different things in a person’s life. The points represented a best friend, the group someone associates with, their closest family member, their dream job and their hopes and dreams.

Depending on what color star people received, they had a different coming out story. One color had the best coming out story one could have. Everyone was supportive of the person’s sharing. Other colors had people rip points off if that point rejected the lifestyle.

This brought up many emotions. Many people were left frustrated that this is a reality for others. More people started to tear up and others were confused why they got the “lucky” star, seeing it as unfair.

Souphilavong’s passion project was meant to open the minds of people who are coming out the closet. But her passion project isn’t the only. There will be more projects held during the remainder of the of the semester in the CCLC room in the Meriam Library.

Brittany McClintock can be reached at [email protected] at @b_mcclintock17 on Twitter.

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Student project focuses on coming-out stories