Two of the scariest components of the LGBTQIA experience can be fear and isolation. Fears of rejection by loved ones, physical or mental abuse, of bullying in general are a common occurrence regardless of if a person is out of the closet. Likewise, being a queer person can be a very lonely experience, one that results from being ostracized and treated differently by others for an inherently natural characteristic.

These powerful emotions were addressed by Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL. He spoke Monday in a collaboration between Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC), SGA, Pride and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). He bared his soul onstage, recounting the harrowing life experiences that shaped him into the man he is today.

Shivani Parmar, vice president of student government and the head of the finance committee, helped organize this event. Parmar helps decide the allocation of the student activity fee, $150 of your Trinity tuition dedicated towards on campus activities such as lectures and club events. Parmar was approached with the idea by Huda Syed, the president of TDC.

“I talked to the senators, Brenna the president of SGA, and the cabinet members. We determined that this was something that SGA would like to distribute part of their personal budget towards cosponsoring the event,” Parmar said.

Opportunities to see such a high profile speaker such as Sam are not commonplace; Parmar found this experience to be an essential one.

“I think the purpose of college is to broaden your perspective, learn about new ideas, and I think this is a really good way to do that because it’s in a lecture format in a large group setting,” Parmar said.

Sophomore Leah Rubio attended the lecture as a member of SAAC on campus; she related Sam’s lecture to the mission of the organization.

“We’re here to talk about things on campus we can help out with and things we can communicate better through our respective teams and through upper campus,” Rubio said.

Rubio found the experience of learning about someone with a different background than her very eye opening and an important dialogue to be had on campus.

“It’s definitely important to all the athletes that we are supportive of the LGBTQ community. We also do have some teammates on our teams that are LGBTQ, so being supportive of them is important to SAAC and the community in general,” Rubio said.

First year David Clark shared a personal connection with Sam.

“You could quote aspects of his story and it’s essentially mine. Going into seventh grade, I was taller than just about everyone else, so the coaches during PE asked me to join football.” Clark said.

One of the main ideas Clark garnered from the lecture was the bridging of two dissonant worlds. Sam’s lecture opened up the conversation of LGBT discrimination to a wider group.

“His life story in little pieces connects to my own, but also to a lot of other stories in the LGBT community.” Clark said.

Just because this lecture has concluded and Michael Sam has left campus does not mean the conversation has ended. For further opportunities to become further educated on the subject of queer culture in a safe environment, check LeeRoy for future PRIDE meetings and discussions.