Spectrum Center teaches queer black history, trans 101


Photo by Kaylyn Jones.

The Spectrum Center hosted Queer Black History and Trans 101 to educate not only on queer black historical figures, but also correct terminology regarding transgender individuals Feb. 4.

Since 2014, the Spectrum Center is the only physical LBGTQ community center in the state of Mississippi. The center produces LGBTQ centric events like drag shows, learning programs and parades. They also host monthly support groups for women, non-gender conforming individuals and allies. The center also helps provide resources for people seeking medical and mental attention, businesses supporting LGBTQ and employment.  

“I can’t tell you the amount of people who come into our events and are very happy that it exists. The center is one of the only places where they can feel at home in their identity, find people who are similar and understand them and will not question who they are,” Mickie Stratos said. 

Stratos, treasurer of the Spectrum Center, hosted the event and gave a thorough definitions of transgender terminology, and surprise entrees of queer black historical figures, like famous activist, Angela Davis, and writer, Langston Hughes. 

The turnout was small with three guests attending.

“The experience was really good and informative. There was a lot of black individuals I did not know was in the queer and gay community. It was very interesting to have a reminder of black history and a refresher of Trans and Queer History 101,” Jasmine Baxter said. 

Baxter is the organizer of Planned Parenthood in Hattiesburg. The Spectrum Center and Planned Parenthood are coalition partners.  

“It is important because of the culture we are in right now. It’s 2020, and we’re in a new decade. It’s time to be inclusive of everyone. In order to do so, you need to learn about the people around you,” Baxter said.

Bezal Jupiter, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, was part of the small group of attendees. “I enjoy the concept of creating a political space where we can talk about these things without someone expressing bigotry.” 

Jupiter said the experience was enlightening because it taught how to navigate through experiences with transgendered individuals and importance of being a good ally.  

“If you’re gay, straight, or anywhere on the spectrum, come over to the center. If you’re part of the LBGTQ community, then this is a safe space for you,” Jupiter said.  

Christian Koerber, Hattiesburg local writer and cartoonist, said the program was enjoyable and amazing to listen to stories that matter. He stressed the importance of using individual resources and skills, like art and comics, to show support.  

“I may not be an activist, but being an artist is a good start,” Koerber said. He urged people to step out of their comfort zone and explore other points of view where beauty can be found.  

“Never let anyone strip away, who you really are. Just be you and be free,” Koerber said.

 For more information for dates and times of future Spectrum Center programs, follow the center on Facebook.