Sharing as Allies - Living Through Love

Living Through Love

February 11, 2021
The Great Hall

Reflection  | VideoPhotos

In our annual celebration of Valentines Day Week, we celebrate love and inclusiveness for all of our LGBTQ+ friend, colleagues and family!


On February 11, 2021, A.P.E.X. Events series was happy to present their annual SUU LGBTQIA+ Allies event celebrating LGBTQIA+ families and friends. This year's event was titled “Living Through Love,” featuring couples from the LGBTQIA+ community who shared their stories and experiences. The presentation was held in an interview style, with A.P.E.X. Events director, Dr. Lynn Vartan, interviewing and having discussions with four other members of the LGBTQIA+ community here in Cedar: Eric, a former SUU student, Jesse, an SUU Aviation student, and SUU Education Professors Jenna Behm and Nichole Wangsgard, a married couple.

Throughout the presentation, Dr. Vartan asked each individual about their personal experiences with gender identity and coming out publicly along with their personal stories and issues they and other people who identify in the LGBTQIA+ community face every day. The group all shared their thoughts and experiences, ranging from embracing gender fluid pronouns (they/them/theirs), the process of transitioning from female to male, standing in the cold with 100 other people in line at the courthouse the morning marriage equality was legalized in Utah, and even Jenna and Nicki talked about their experience having to go through the heartbreaking difficulty of having to be legally married as a lesbian couple and Nicki having to adopt her own children and not legally being allowed to have her name on her children’s birth certificate.

The group also discussed anti-LGBTQ+ bills and laws being discussed and passed, such as a current law being discussed in Utah to prevent transgender girls or boys from being on the same sports team as their respective cisgender peers, an action that if passed, would be hurtful and discriminatory towards the transgender community. Jenna also discussed her fears when she started teaching about identifying as lesbian, and didn’t publicly come out after being together with Nicki for 10 years, out of fear for losing her job. To close out the conversation, various members of the group offered advice for anyone listening struggling with acceptance as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, ranging from finding a great, healthy support system to not being afraid to change one’s opinion or identity.

by Emily Sexton