Red Barn packed for LGBT Center’s “Drag Bingo” event Thursday, Sep 15 2022 

By Tate Luckey

This past Wednesday, the LGBT Center partnered with U of L Dining services to bring Drag Bingo, hosted by drag queen Vanessa Halston. All 150 spots in the Red Barn were full, with prizes ranging from canvas bags and shirts to heat-activated mugs!

If you’d like to learn more about the LGBT center, you can click here and follow them on Instagram.

File Photos // The Louisville Cardinal //

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New Cultural and Equity Center aims to increase inclusivity on campus Monday, Nov 1 2021 

By Tate Luckey —

On October 22nd, the University of Louisville reopened its new Cultural and Equity Center inside the new Belknap Residence Hall. The upgraded facility features the Cultural Center, LGBT Center, Women’s Center, and various study/multipurpose rooms for students of all backgrounds.

This reopening comes after the University was recognized for the 8th year as a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award recipient, joining other universities like Clemson and Florida State. “Now that we have a whole building, and there are banners and flags all over it, we’ll get a lot more attention. I think it does help U of L become a more diverse campus,” junior Agustina Cisterna said.

Ashton Beckham, Porter scholar and finance major, felt similarly but thinks that the university can do a bit more. “I do think U of L is diverse, but I wish [the university] put more effort into enrolling black students in honors-level courses,” he said. “[The new space] is definitely better than the space in Strickler.”

The new center provides a more centralized location for the various diversity departments around campus. “It’s a really modern space that offers many helpful resources. Students of color now have easier access to the Parrish LLC, which is very convenient,” Beckham said.

In an interview with U of L News, President Neeli Bendapudi said that the center represents one of many major efforts the university has made in striving to become anti-racist and more inclusive to the entire Cardinal community.

If you’d like to learn more about the space and programs it offers, you can do so here. 

File Photos // Facebook, The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L Pride’s keynote speaker Sherry Cola talks AAPI representation and her queer experience Wednesday, Oct 20 2021 

By Tate Luckey 

“When I found out that Sherry Cola was going to be our Pride keynote speaker, I felt overwhelming excited, and starstruck. Representation matters,” Savanna White said.

And that cannot be more true.

In an era where it can be to be confident in yourself, there is none more true to themselves than actor Sherry Cola. Cola, who is queer, Asian-American, a comedian/actor and star on Good Trouble, spoke at the 2021 Belknap Pride Keynote on topics ranging from her life experiences, professional work, and even which co-star was the best to kiss.

Jaison Gardner

The moderator of this event, Jaison Gardner (co-host of NPR’s “Strange Fruit: Musings On Politics, Culture, and Black Gay Life“), started off by asking Cola (who joined via Zoom) about the #StopAAPIHate movement, and what she’s dealt with in terms of any anti-Asian sentiments.


“[The Asian community] was so undefined by people, and it didn’t help that society brainwashed us into these people that didn’t want to ‘rock the boat’. It’s why the Atlanta shooting was so heartbreaking. It’s a constant reminder that we’re not silent. To be honest, we owe a lot to the black community,’ she said. She noted that the protests from last summer, combined with the ongoing efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement helped others in the AAPI find their voice.

“I think at the end of the day it’s about recognizing that while the experiences aren’t exactly the same, they’re worth fighting for. The things that we touch on [Good Trouble] from trans rights to equal pay… it’s really just taught me to show up,” she said. “Speak up for your AAPI friends, check in with them. Asian people are not represented nearly as much as they should be [in media].”

Representation Matters

Cola, who was born in China and immigrated to the Americas as a young teen, noted her idols growing up included Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Lucy Liu.

“That’s pretty much it in terms of Asian role models in media. It was so discouraging as someone who wanted to be a performer of some sort; it felt like a gamble, especially as in immigrant,” Cola said.

Margaret Cho, who shares the screen with Cola on Good Trouble, was huge in helping her overcome her limitations and recognizing what she’s capable of.

Cola identifies as bisexual and explained that being on Good Trouble helped her with her queerness. “I was so passionate about the character and about the representation that was happening,” she said.

She never really addressed her feelings about her sexuality until 2010, when she remembers she first had feelings for a woman. “I was so confused, to be honest. I remember telling my best friend and I was shook by this. It was the first time I admitted this version of myself.” Despite how supportive and proud she is, Cola didn’t have the conversation with her mom until after she got the part in Good Trouble.

She elaborated, saying that, “queerness wasn’t a conversation topic growing up. But we’re out here living our life despite no one rooting for us. It’s really special.”

Sherry Cola’s experiences are one of many being shared during U of L’s Month, which kicked off on October 6th. On Thursday, October 21st, the LGBT Center is hosting Chance Krempasky, an APRN. If you’d like to know more, you can click here.

Photos by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

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Annual student drag show “PINK!” goes virtual Wednesday, Apr 14 2021 

By Joseph Garcia —

After last year’s performance was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “PINK!” a student-run drag show hosted by U of L’s Engage Lead Serve Board with the help of the LGBT Center, returned this spring for the first time ever as a virtual show. This year’s show was dedicated to Jaison Gardner, co-host of the Strange Fruit podcast and PINK emcee, who was absent this year due to a medical emergency.

Madison Fogle, co-director of ELSB’s Community Peace committee and co-organizer of PINK, said that the show gives students a chance to participate in the university’s Cardinal Core Principles by simply enjoying and supporting one another.

“PINK really showcases that Diversity and Inclusion isn’t just panels and policies, it is entertainment and fun, too,” she said. “It’s also a great way for us to give back to our community.”

Anyone is allowed to perform at PINK, Fogle said “that’s the beauty of the show.” This year Reva Deveraux, JTwoTimes, Leo the King and Ace performed.

Fogle said planning for the spring show began back in October of 2020. She said that COVID safety was a number one priority in designing and planning for the event.

The normally in-person event, went entirely online opting for a livestreamed performance, which was prerecorded. Performers would come in at different times to record their parts and surfaces were frequently sanitized by student workers in-between sets to keep everyone safe, but the digital format presented new challenges that prior years didn’t experience.

“Filming and editing the shows were definitely more difficult than just having the performances,” Fogle said. Her and co-organizer, Eli Cooper put in over 60 hours with filming and editing alone for three weeks prior to the livestream. “It all paid off tonight watching the show come together though,” she said.

It’s traditional that at drag shows you support the queens and kings by tipping, and that was still an integral part of the event as performers Cashapp and Venmo accounts would be on screen if people wished to support them.

Audiences could also show support by donating to the LGBT Center. Donated money goes toward funding LGBT+ scholarships and LGBT+ student organizations on campus.

Missed the show? Check out the full 40-minute performance on ELSB’s YouTube channel here.

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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Campus leaders comment on Pope’s message of same-sex civil unions Wednesday, Nov 25 2020 

By Catherine Brown–

On Oct. 22, a translation from the 2020 documentary Francesco was released that made the Pope appear to support civil unions between same-sex couples being recognized.

We need to have this conversation because it’s relevant for so many students. While students will have differing opinions on the topic, one point remains clear: LGBTQ+ youth, especially those of faith, should have a place where they feel like they belong. And the Pope certainly expresses this sentiment.

The Catholic Church is known for being conservative about social justice topics like same-sex relationships. The Church views same-sex relationships and homosexuality as sinful. The Church generally only accepts the notion of a marriage to be between one man and one woman.

Lisa Gunterman, director of the LGBT Center at U of L, grew up Catholic and said that some of the earliest emotional wounds LGBTQ+ people experience is from their faith communities, telling them they are unwelcomed or unloved by God.

The emotional impact of these messages can be devastating, especially to young people,” Gunterman said. “We know from data, for example, that LGBTQ youth experience higher rates of suicidality, bullying and houselessness, as compared to their peers. The sole reason we see so many LGBTQ+ young people experiencing housing insecurity is because their families disowned them, often times because parents/guardians could not reconcile their religious beliefs with their child’s LGBTQ+ identity.”

And after the initial news spread of the Pope’s supposed endorsement, there were also articles stating that the original footage was mistranslated, including some from U of L. 

The Rev. John Paul Kern, chaplain of the Catholic Campus Ministry at U of L, said he has spoken with native Spanish speakers that can translate the Pope’s words. Kern concluded that the speech was translated in a way that might make it easy to misconstrue.

“The Pope does not endorse adopting children, but does encourage families who have children with same-sex attraction not to reject or exclude these children from their family in any way,” Kern said. “The Pope was explaining his thoughts on civil unions, which could include two people of the same sex, and not simply ‘homosexual civil unions,’ and it also seems he was explaining one practical option to the situation in Argentina in 2010 and not advocating for a general approach to be followed in all times and places.” 

Despite this, Gunterman said that for anyone identifying with Catholic and LGBTQ+ identities, it’s still possible to find a sense of belonging in both communities. 

“There are currently Catholic communities across the country that welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ families, you just have to look for the,” Gunterman said. “Pope Francis’s words have not only given support to these families, but to the priests, lay ministers and congregations who have been welcoming, all along. His words will hopefully challenge those who have been unwelcoming in the past to interrogate their personal biases, while committing to ensuring all of their members feel included, affirmed and celebrated.”

At U of L, the university offers resources for students who identify as LGBTQ+ and Catholic.

“What has been inspiring, to me is the cultural shift that has been taking place, where it is now possible to identify affirming Catholic communities and schools,” Gunterman said. “U of L even has a scholarship now for LGBTQ+ Catholic students and allies—the Bourke DeLeon Endowed LGBT Catholic Scholarship—which is the first of its kind in the nation. Scholarships such as these send a message to students that they don’t have to lose their faith tradition, simply because of their LGBTQ+ identity.”

Whether the circulating translation of the Pope’s words was correct or not, it’s important for Catholic LGBTQ+ youth to feel like they have a place. No matter your personal belief on LGBTQ+ identity, the Pope makes it clear that students should not feel out of place in their community, and should always be treated with love and respect.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Exploring intersecting identities with Queer Eye’s culture expert Tuesday, Feb 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

Karamo Brown, culture expert on the Netflix reboot of “Queer Eye,” came prepared to laugh and get deep with the Louisville community Feb. 5. Students, staff, faculty and community members alike packed the Student Activities Center’s ballroom just to see the three-time Emmy winner and hear his thoughts on the intersections of identity.

Along with “Queer Eye,” Brown also appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2019 and “The Real World: Philadelphia” in 2004. He has also worked as a social worker, written a memoir and co-authored a book with his son Jason. Lately, Brown has been working on his podcast, “Karamo,” and a new skin care line.

The Student Activities Board, LGBT Center and Black Student Union coordinated the event.

Brown learned how to grow and learn from his multitude of identities as a black man, an openly gay man, a son of immigrant parents, a Christian, a single father and former social worker.

“Being here in this room with us, sends a powerful message about who we are, what we care about and value. And that’s inclusion and celebrating all the identities that make us a community,” said Brian Buford, director of employee development and success at the University of Louisville.

Brown talked about his childhood and how it was a struggle for him to celebrate who he was.

“Growing up in Texas, to immigrant parents, with the name Karamo, it was not cute, okay?” Brown said. “There were a lot of times I felt alone and isolated. I knew that I was different because I would bring things to lunch that I loved, like curry goat or ox tails, and people at school would immediately let me know that it wasn’t okay to bring.”

As a child, Brown began to internalize that being different was a bad thing. He even changed his name to Jason because people would make a face when he said his real name.

“Sometimes the faces hurt more than the words, because it was like I ‘m showing you who I am and I’m proud of who I am and then your response to be curious is ‘What?!'” Brown said, “That is a very hard pill to swallow when you’re a kid, especially when you’re still trying to build your self-esteem and figure out who you are in this big world.”

Phoenix Washington, a recent Liberal Arts graduate, said it was freeing to hear Karamo speak.

“It was nice to hear about someone with a checkered past who used their identities to build themselves up,” Washington said. “Even more freeing as a queer black person trying to figure out where you fit.”

On being “marginalized.”

This discontent to all his identities, Brown said came from a shared understanding from the people around him and the media: different meant not as good.

“It meant you’re not as special, that you don’t deserve as much,” Brown said.  “And I remember getting around the age of 13 or 14 where I started to hear this word marginalized.”

It’s something we still hear to this day and is all over news outlets. Brown said at 14 he didn’t really understand what it meant when people around him began saying he was apart of marginalized communities, but now fully understands the power and implication of the word.

“There’s an undertone. When someone says you’re part of a marginalized community, they’re saying you don’t deserve access, you’re not going to attain what someone else has attained, you don’t have the right to do so,” Brown said. “When I look at myself as a black man, as a son of immigrants, as a gay man–I don’t think of any of these things as marginal. I think of all of these things as gifts that I’ve been given to create a better life for myself.”

Battling a diminished self-esteem.

But at the time, his self-esteem was still lacking due to all the negative things he was hearing from people around him. Brown realized they were projecting their fears and issues on him. “It was causing me anxiety,” Brown said.

“I realized if I wanted to have better self-esteem, one of the things I could personally do and start doing immediately was practicing not repeating the negative things I heard about myself.”

Brown said the only way to combat that feeling of waking up in the morning and wishing something about yourself is different is to stop repeating the negative things people say about you. He said you have to start saying the good things about yourself.

“All of your identities make you special, like I said, they are gifts to me,” Brown said, “The reason I have my job on ‘Queer Eye’ is because I literally went into a room full of 100 other gay guys and decided I was not going to be ashamed of any part of my identities. I said to myself, ‘no one in here has all of my identities, I’m going to share with them what is great about me.'”

Brown said that despite this, people will try to stifle your voice, or that we ourselves will stifle our own voices.

“Social media culture makes it so very easy to look at someone’s life and say ‘Wow. Look at what they’ve done, what’s wrong with me?'” Brown said, “Let me tell you something, when it comes to your identities and appreciating and loving every part of you–comparison is the thief of joy.”

More than just black and gay.

This is all to say that the biggest part of Brown’s identity has nothing to do with his appearance, sexuality or background. It’s his ability to ask for help and his ability to start again.

“That’s why I don’t like New Year’s resolutions,” Brown said, “No one says that if you don’t make your New Year’s resolution in the timeline you thought, that you can actually start again. I want everyone in here to remember that part of your identity is your ability to ask for help if you don’t know what you’re doing and also to start again.”

“Every day is a brand new day and we know that to be true. One of the things I know to be true, and I’ve said this on ‘Queer Eye,’ is that failure is not the opposite of success. It’s part of it.”

Brown said that by doing this and allowing yourself to make mistakes, you free yourself from the shackles of yesterday.

“If a little child were here right now, and we were like ‘He’s about to start walking for the first time!’ and he fell and busted his head,” Brown said, “none of us would be like ‘You’re never gonna walk again!'” To which Brown and the audience laughed.

Curiosity and the soul.

Another one of the many big takeaways Brown wanted the audience to remember was that they should strive to stay curious. As kids, we were continually told to explore and try new things, but at some point that stops.

We get into cliques and avoid anything different.

“I’m a big believer that’s where we stop learning how to connect with people and with the world around us–when we stop being curious,” Brown said.

Instead, Brown wants people to be excited about different cultures and foods.”When you get excited about something new you start to begin to open yourself up to new possibilities. You start to find yourself getting curious about so many things around you that you didn’t know you could be curious about,” Brown said.

“Curiosity feeds your soul and mind in such a way, believe me.”

And Brown does this everyday.

“What it does for me is I start to learn. The more I learn, the more I grow, the more I grow the more I can connect with other people. The more that I connect with other people the more I feel alive and apart of this world.”

Photo by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

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