The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Megan Poe
Opinion Editor

My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

We’ve come a long way, baby, but still far to go

Katrina Klawes
Katrina Klawes

“I was here when the first LGBT organization was founded in 1990, we had to have a secret code to get in the building. That is how afraid people were,” history professor Chet Defonso said. “I created this LGBT History course in 1997, and am amazed how far we have come each year that I teach this course.” I agree with Dr. Defonso, and his words along with the many students who have spoken to me, which force me to analyze how Marquette and NMU stands on its willingness to embrace and accept LGBTQIA (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trangender Questioning Intersex Asexual) rights.

I would like to mention how very far NMU has come in the short 3 years that I have been here, but I would also like to mention how very far we have yet to go.

Currently, NMU does not offer a gender inclusive housing option in the dorms. Gender inclusive housing is a housing option that allows people to live together regardless of their gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation; and is especially important to transgender students. And, considering that there is a requirement that all students live on campus for the first two years (unless they have family who lives in the area, are older than 21, married or a veteran), that means that there is a significant portion of students who are forced to live in a location where they are not accepted, or at the very least not properly recognized for who they are.

On the side of progress, this upcoming fall semester gender inclusive housing will be made available to all students in on campus apartments (not the dorms). Additionally, in December of 2014, NMU adopted a Preferred Name Policy which allows transgender students to have class rosters and educators denote the name they wish to be called, rather than their birth name which may be the incorrect gender.

Story continues below advertisement

Marquette like NMU, has a fascinating and rich history as it relates to LGBTQIA rights.  On September 26, 2013 the first Pride Parade was held in Marquette. Pride Fest is a celebration of queer culture and typically includes drag shows, parades and other events centered on celebrating “the rainbow spectrum.” To give you context of how long it took to progress to this point, on September 26, 1926 the Klux Klux Klan held a march in Marquette against many different types of equality.

This is paired with the fact that Michigan is one of 13 states that have not legalized gay marriage, while 37 others have allotted the right to same sex partners to marry. In fact, 11 years ago Michigan passed a ban on same sex marriage by referendum vote, which points to the fact that historically Michigan has not been very progressive as it concerns LGBTQIA rights.

A local bar, CoCo’s, recently began holding monthly drag shows. These drag shows can “attract over 100 audience members and are advertised openly in the community with flyers. They are a big event in the queer community that help celebrate queer culture,” senior theater major James Porras said.

The significance of this cannot be overstated. This shows how things have changed since Dr. Defonso created the first LGBT organization in 1990, as the willingness to be open shows the communities greater acceptance and less fear of violence from the queer population. As a history minor, and a student who had the opportunity take the LGBT History course offered at NMU, I am proud to be able to witness such progress towards equality knowing how very far we have come, and knowing there is a big battle ahead.

More to Discover