by Ross Wade, Elon staff

I love a good conversation, and for whatever reason, I feel like the older I get, the less of them I have. Maybe it is because I’m too busy with life, tasks, and work. Maybe it’s because I’m thinking and strategizing so much during the day, that all I want to do when I get home is sit on the sofa, turn on the TV, and numb my brain with the sagas of adolescent vampires or watch a young couple and their realtor search for the perfect kitchen with granite countertops. But yesterday I had one of those great conversations…and it came out of nowhere! In a matter of 30 minutes we discussed how ridiculously gays and lesbians are depicted in the media (still in 2012!), finding your voice as an advocate/activist, how to balance advocacy with professional persona, and my favorite part of the talk…I heard a really great story about a man, his husband, and their 19 year relationship. After this 30 minute talk I felt inspired and rejuvenated, and reminded of the power of stories…and I remembered a few other stories I’ve heard over the past few months.

During the Elon Alumni LGBTQIA Summit I had the opportunity to spend the day with a few dozen of Elon’s amazing LGBTQIA alums, and talk to Lowry Sinclair, ’65, who is hilarious and inspiring – he told stories of Elon “back in the day” and his pride in working with students conducting research on LGBTQIA topics through his award.

During a recent colloquium put on by the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, I sat beside a pastor (and his wife) new to the Elon community. He discussed his goals for making his church more inclusive and we had a great talk about being scared, but doing the right thing anyway…and how to find the courage to be less neutral and more purposeful as advocates.

Recently I found this amazing TED talk by novelist Chimamanda Adichie on the dangers of only knowing a single story (aka a stereotype) about a group of people, and how it robs us of truly understanding them and their culture.

I hope that as this blog grows, it will reflect the stories of Elon’s diverse LGBTQIA population – our struggles, our successes, and our hopes. There are many more stories to share (and create!), so let’s remember to tell our stories and have good conversations…they are important.