“How gay?” you would ask, given a number of international universities and given that we are in Vietnam. Then let me tell you this. VinUni is so gay that it is the first one to have a campus-wide, officially-recognized community for LGBTQIA+, called PRISM. It is so gay that it has the most amazing Vice Provost who proclaimed himself as a gay icon (Check out our upcoming article on Professor David Harrison). And it is so gay that this article is appearing on the university’s official communication channels.
But the high level of acceptance towards the LGBTQIA+ community does not really guarantee thorough understanding by the student body or the faculty or staff. If you were to ask any random VinUnian whether they knew what each letter of LGBTQIA+ stands for, chances are they would not even realize there are QIA+ besides the original first four letters.
So we decided to resort to the real insiders - PRISM to help us shed some lights on this topic.
🌈 Can you tell us the meaning behind LGBTQIA+ and why are there more and more of them as time passes by?
🏳️🌈 LGBTQIA+ comprises different sexual orientations in the community with L standing for “Lesbian”, G for “Gay”, B for “Bisexual” and T for “Transgender”. These can be considered as the “OG” way to call the community.
🏳️🌈 The extension of the name consists of Q, which stands for “Queer” - an umbrella term for people who do not consider themselves straight/ cisgender or “Questioning” for anyone who is discovering themselves through their development. I means “Intersex” and A is for “Asexual”, which has been explained wonderfully in another article.
🏳️🌈 The “+” is also crucial to the community’s name, as it presents that the community also encompasses much broader.
🌈 Can you change to other “letters” or assume many “letters” at the same time?
🏳️🌈 Absolutely, because it entirely depends on how you identify yourself and how you want to present yourself to the world. It’s entirely okay to be a transwoman and a lesbian at the same time. However, it does not always work that way. Like you cannot identify yourself both as a lesbian and a bisexual, it may present a conflict of interest I guess.
🌈 How did you guys come to know your letters?
🏳️🌈 It takes some work, honestly. I find out by coming into a relationship, then coming out (pun-intended) knowing who I am and who I am attracted to. Easy as it might sound, the whole process of discovering, learning, and finally accepting my identity took me over 4 years and I appreciate myself for having done this journey.
🌈 As a member of the LQBTQIA+ community, do you often feel the need to show who you are?
🏳️🌈 Yes, I do take effort to kinda show it through my appearance and my actions when I was a so-called “baby lesbian.” I cut my hair really short, cuffed my sleeves, wore lots of checkers clothes, and I once believed those were the only ways that I could showcase myself. Gradually, I became more comfortable with myself and my sexual orientation and before long, I could proudly present myself as a lesbian without excessive display or external recognition.
🌈 Can you recommend any songs/ movies for people who just learn about your community?
🏳️🌈 You can watch or read “Heartstopper” - a REAL lovely and comic show about two boys loving each other and discovering more about themselves along the way. Trust me, it’s super cute!
🏳️🌈 A more classic piece of art would be “Call me by your name” (be sure to add “Mystery of Love” in some of your Spotify playlists!)
🏳️🌈 A heavier watch would be “Brokeback Mountains”, “Carol” or “The Danish Girl”, and prepare some tissues with these films.
🏳️🌈 A prime example of music that I take as an inside hint from lesbians is music of Girl In Red. Quite classic I see.
Despite the painstaking process of getting to know herself, our friend from PRISM is yet to come out to her parents. Nevertheless, her work at VinUni’s official gay community has filled many with the support and bravery needed to live true to themselves.
🌈 Can you tell us a bit about PRISM and what do you guys do?
🏳️🌈 PRISM is a symbolic name, as it essentially is a tool that refracts LIGHT into a spectrum of color that best represents our LIFE: diverse.
🏳️🌈 PRISM welcomes people of all colors, races, ages, identities and backgrounds coming together in harmony and solidarity.
🏳️🌈 We offer a safe space for open discussion, workshops and events that promote community and belongingness, while advocating for equity and inclusiveness at VinUni and further.
🌈 Have you got any plans for this Pride Month?
Yes, we are spreading the spirits on our Facebook page. Make sure to check out our latest collaboration with VinVivid in honor of Pride Month, in which we take you on a mesmerizing journey through a part of the history of LGBTQIA+ fashion from the 1890s until now!
🌈 Tell us a few things each student can do to help promote a more diverse and inclusive environment at VinUni.
🏳️🌈 The most important thing would be to BE OPEN and RESPECT THE DIFFERENCES. (wow such a diplomatic answer!) I’m not telling you to go outside and scream “I agree” or change your avatar into the pride flag or go to Pride Parade to show that you are in support.
🏳️🌈 Let’s just take small steps at a time: watch a movie like the ones we mentioned above, check out a Queer coffee shop this weekend, and guess what? Share your experience with your group of friends, get them involved, explain the new things you learned.
🏳️🌈 The more people talk about it, the more inclusive we will get, the better environment we will create for people of the community to come out to you, with pride!
And the best of them all? Join PRISM it is!! We welcome ALL!!
P/S: On behalf of our editorial team, we would like to send our best wishes to our LGBTQIA+ friends at VinUni and all over the world. We hope you forever walk the flower road with pride and peace of mind!
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