The second annual Black and White Ball commenced in a rupture of student support for the LGBT community. Wildcats ate food and bobbed along to the music blasted from
the DJ on the fourth floor of the Shepherd Union Building.
“It’s a LGBT ally-safe dance,” said Kate Martinson, the WSU Gay-Straight Alliance president, who helped organize the event. “We invite all the other GSAs from all the other colleges in the state, and we invite them to have a safe place for them to dance, have fun. A lot of people think it’s just kind of like a gay dance, but it’s just a safe zone for LGBT and ally people. We do homecomings and other dances like that, but they’re not specifically safe. They’re not unsafe, but they’re not told they are safe for this community that has a lot of prejudice against (it), especially in Utah. So this dance is centered around them to have a place they know they can come and have fun.”
Emily Buck, Nicole Richardson and Elizabeth Warren are a trio of friends who came out to support the LGBT community.
“I think the thing for Utah (is that) people feel like they need to frame it,” Richardson said. “I’m Mormon, and I think that they (LGBT people) can do whatever they want and it’s none of my business. I shouldn’t judge them, but I feel a lot of Utah Mormons are scared of it.”
Buck, a freshman studying respiratory therapy, said she grew up believing equal rights should extend to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
“I found that a lot of the Mormons I’ve spoken to, I think they are not as settled in their own sexuality,” Buck said, “and it scares them. Or there’s people who say it’s a disease and you are going to be contaminated, and it’s like ‘no, you’re not.’”
Richardson stressed that not all Mormons believe homosexuality is a sin. She said she and her friends support the rights of everyone and believe it’s important to spread a message of love.
“I’ve went through my rebellion stage and I decided that I was going to be Mormon, but that doesn’t mean I have to be afraid of everything else,” Richardson said. “I think that we all have that side of ourselves, and if someone wants to lean towards that and accept it and they decide that’s how they are, then that’s how they are. I don’t think it’s a sin. I mean, we’re all people, right?”
Newly inaugurated student body president David Wilson reflected on the words of his professor about the LGBT community.
“In French class the other day, my French teacher made this statement that ‘our generation is the most open and accepting generation that ever lived on the earth,’” Wilson said. “And I think now we have a great opportunity as students and as a university to welcome everyone. I think it’s awesome that there’s the GSA and there’s LGBT things like that that can help promote all that so everyone is more comfortable and welcome.”
Andrew Gardiner, the former student body president, said being in office has made him more aware of the needs of the student body and that he feels the representation of an equal-opportunity campus is crucial for the development of students.
“I just hope that, no matter which student it is, LGBT or whatever, that they feel welcome at Weber State,” Gardiner said. “I would hate for a student to feel inferior or that they couldn’t make friends and have relationships.”