Rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community have made enormous strides in the last few years, but in 1971 many Central Michigan students only had Spectrum.
Samantha Wilton, Lake City sophomore and president of Spectrum, said the organization was the first gay-straight alliance at a Michigan university.
“It started as a safe haven for LGBTQ students who had no where else to go,” Wilton said. “It is a safe place for people to be themselves, to share their experiences, and to make lasting friendships.”
Spectrum works alongside the Office of LGBTQ Services to put on Pride Week and Coming Out Week. The organization also hosts numerous educational events to fight stereotypes in the community.
Some of the events include an event called “How Good is Your Gaydar?” a screening of the film “A Fish Out of Water” and a question and answer session with local pastors from the Mount Pleasant community.
Wilton said one memorable moment was when the group got a picture of President George Ross coming out of a rainbow door, which was set up in the middle of campus to represent announcing your sexuality.
“My favorite event is ‘Coming Out at Kaya,’ where people come and share their coming out stories,” Wilton said.
Victor Leon, a Burton senior and vice president, said Spectrum has given him a community of welcoming people.
“Coming out was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I came to Spectrum to become part of a community that accepts me,” Leon said. “I have made a lot of friends, so I can help create the community that was so accepting toward me.”
Spectrum also hosts social events and encourages members to get to know each other personally.
Ryann Ferguson, a Davisberg freshman, recently joined Spectrum’s e-board and said she hopes to help educate people about the LGBTQ community.
“When I came out in high school, the hardest thing was people not understanding,” Ferguson said. “So my goal is (to) educate people outside of Spectrum to make it easier for everyone to be cool with each other.”
Wilton said in the future, she hopes Spectrum can be more focused on being social.
“Spectrum has and will always be a place for people to make friends,” Wilton said.
Spectrum holds its meetings Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in the Bovee University Center. The organization posts the specific room at their Facebook page, Spectrum of CMU.