Compassion & The MSU LGBTQ Center
Compassion is a word that many LGBTQ students hear often. It’s a centralized idea that revolves around sympathy and the notion of feeling sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Many might argue that being a young LGBTQ member of society living in New Jersey isn’t all that bad when there are places like Russia and India who are still known for their hateful, government sanctioned violence against the community. However, in these times of political uncertainty, many young LGBTQ people feel rather hopeless, scared and angry at the lack of compassion and understanding their fellow citizens have showed them. Thankfully, LGBTQ students at Montclair State have somewhere to go for information, education and full service support on campus.
The LGBTQ Center at Montclair State University supports the welfare and success of students in the community. It provides the right resources, programs and student based leadership to create an environment of inclusive support for all involved. The Center values advocacy, education, social justice and special services to those who either need certain information or friendly advice.
Austin Leigh, a high school senior from Woodcliff Lakes, spoke to me about his hopes for his admissions into Montclair State and participation in the LGBTQ Center. “The LGBTQ Center at Montclair State definitely swayed my decision when I was looking at colleges. I want to be somewhere comforting” he said as we sat and drank coffee together. Leigh is one of 4 brothers and can’t wait to be set free into college life.
“High school basically sucks” Leigh told me after revealing that he felt as if his life was about to start in college. Many young LGBTQ students in highschool feel as though life will get better in college because of the different types of people they will meet. “I really love that the center will be a place for me to feel safe at all times.” Leigh plans on living on campus which means the center will not be far away.
Compassion, at times, seems to subside to the fact that a lot of young LGBTQ students feel especially alarmed due to the unsettling political climate we find ourself in. “I definitely was upset for a while. It’s still very upsetting.” The 2017 election outcome came as an unforgettable surprise for Leigh, saying he “had no idea it would turn out this way.”
Being compassionate in today’s word is especially important. Compassion with people and their needs as well as compassion with their inner feelings. “I definitely feel like we have a problem with compassion in our country. It’s OK to be gay but it’s also OK to call someone a “faggot” in some parts of our country.” This frightening dichotomy that Leigh proclaimed, grounded me as I realized he was completely right in his views.
The harsh truth is that even though we live in a place that may be more compassionate to LGBTQ members and their rights than others, we still live in a world where fear and hopelessness still live within the LGBTQ communities. The idea that there is a place such as the MSU LGBTQ Center is definitely comforting to young students like Leigh just who wish to go to college and live life without fear or worry.