Book inspires community discussion

Lauren Lund

Opinions, laws and penalties regarding homosexuality are shifting every day with same-sex marriage legalized in 17 states and debated in others, while on the other side of the world, 10 countries in Africa and the Middle East punish homosexuality with the death penalty.

Courtesy of John Corvino Wayne State University professor John Corvino’s book is the basis for the DCRP this year.
Courtesy of John Corvino
Wayne State University professor John Corvino’s book is the basis for the DCRP this year.

In light of such fierce debate, the Diversity Common Reader Program (DCRP) made this the topic for their second annual Common Reader Writing Competition. Open to students, qualifying entries should be personal interpretations of this year’s book, “What’s Wrong with Homosexuality,” by Wayne State professor John Corvino.

Associate Director of the Multicultural Education and Resource Center Shirley Brozzo said she encourages students to think outside the box.

“[The Writing Competition] is based on the book, ‘What’s Wrong With Homosexuality,’ which is the jumping-off point for anything submitted, whether it be a fiction piece, short story, poem or artwork that is related to the topic, or marriage equality in general,” Brozzo said.

Brozzo said the topic applies to our campus and community.

“I am excited about the conversations that it has already begun to spark,” Brozzo said. “People are already getting excited. We had 250 copies of the books to give away this year and I think we are just about out of volumes.”

The Diversity Committee’s Chair President Lesley Larkin is one of many faculty members judging the competition’s creative and intellectual entries.

“The contest is open to non-fiction essay writing and to creative pieces,” Larkin said. “The [judging] criteria will depend on the kind of piece submitted. We are looking for writing skill, aesthetic skill, complexity of thought and effectiveness of the message being communicated.”

Larkin said she looks forward to reading the original ideas NMU students have to offer.

“We have so many really bright students who are interested in issues of diversity, inclusion and equity,” Larkin said. “I am excited to see what they create.”

Winning entries will be bound into a book that will recount the program’s events throughout the semester. One copy will be delivered to NMU President David Haynes, while another will be displayed on campus.

But Brozzo said this program offers more benefits than just a winning title.

“[The Competition] is uniting the community across this one common reader,” Brozzo said. “It gives students a chance to showcase their work, whether in writing or something artistic, and a chance to be judged by peers.”

The semester-long program includes five discussions during the week of Tuesday, March 25 to Tuesday, April 1. There is also the juried exhibit showcasing student art submissions held in the Student Art Gallery in the University Center Monday, March 24 through Friday, April 4. Photographer and LGBT advocate iO Tillet Wright will be speaking at 7 p.m. Monday, March 24 in a venue to be determined.

To conclude the program, author John Corvino will lecture on “Haters, Sinners, and the Rest of Us: The Gay Debate Today,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 2 in Jamrich 102. Students and community members are also encouraged to attend the fundraising dance event supporting Equality Michigan at 9 p.m. Thursday, April 3 in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center.

Students can find more information on the schedule and events at www.nmu.edu/DiversityReadingProject.

With an opportunity to gain new insight about an important topic, Brozzo said she strongly encourages students to “come, participate and share opinions.”