Southern Oregon University’s Queer Resource Center’s second annual “Thursday’s a Drag” gave attendees an inspiring experience last week, with slam poetry, live acoustics, skits and dances, and an appearance by the “Diamond Divas” featuring SOU students promoting an anti-bullying campaign.
Co-hosting the show was Anders Templeton, facilitator of “Trans Talk,” a campus support group for Transgender students. Templeton performed a slam poetry piece illustrating the internal challenges faced by a transgender student.
“We wanted to do something deep that got people thinking,” said Templeton, 25. Templeton’s first experiences at SOU weren’t exactly easy, as he was in the process of coming out and embracing being transgender, while learning to maneuver the campus and adjust to college life.
“I was the shy kid who didn’t want to sit alone at the cafeteria,” said Templeton. At first, getting up the nerve to go to the QRC was overwhelming, but eventually he found enough encouragement in his roommate Brod McLaughlin, current staff member of the QRC. Templeton began volunteering time in “the Q” and later started “Trans Talk,” for questioning students or friends of.
Brod McLaughlin, also present at “Thursday’s a Drag,” revealed his early
experiences with coming out to be difficult as well.
“When I was younger, I had someone telling me it wasn’t okay to be myself. Before the Q, I didn’t know where I fit in and I was depressed,” said McLaughlin, 22.
Finding a friend in his roommate Templeton, McLaughlin was able to discover the confidence to find himself. After being seen pacing in front of the QRC, McLaughlin was welcomed in and given support.
“It was okay to be who I’ve always wanted to be, and that makes me feel like I’m finally loved,” he said. “Everyone here is like a family.”
McLaughlin now works in the QRC and works to help students feel comfortable in their own skin.
Events on campus like “Thursday’s a Drag” reach out to a broad range of students through an artistic means to promote a very important message. With the gender-inclusive floor in the Cascade Residence Halls, a variety of resources, and campus activities reaching out to people from all walks of life, SOU has shown that it is safe for everyone.
“I think the campus is becoming a more inclusive place,” said Templeton.