Tuesday, October 27, 2015

UVI: Breaking Down Barriers

(Fom left to right) Janelle Saruaw, Michele Weichman, and Dr. Patricia Rhymer pose
for a group photo after a panel discussion on the diversity in sexual orientation.

UVI’s Counseling and Career Services Department, the UVI Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, and the Psychology and Brothers with a Cause student organizations hosted a panel discussion about breaking down barriers on the topic of diversity in sexual orientation. There were four panelists, including Pastor Beltane Harrigan, founder of the Way of the Cross Baptist Church, Dr. Patricia Rhymer, a professor of psychology, and two persons living the diverse lifestyle, Janelle Sarauw and Michele Weichman.

The first round of questions were primarily focused on how the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) debate is affecting the community. The questions that followed asked about specific details from the panelists’ lives. Both Sarauw and Weichman divulged details on “coming out” to their friends and loved ones for the first time. They talked about moments in their lives when they understood they were different from most of the people around them. Another question inquired about the existence of gender roles in same-sex relationships.

The final round of questions came from members of the audience, most of whom directed their questions to Pastor Harrigan. Throughout the discussion, Harrigan was continuously asked about his interpretation of the Bible’s role and viewpoint in regards to the LGBT community and sexual diversity.

The audience was left with a better understanding of the struggles that the LGBT community faces and in turn, members of the LGBT community were given the opportunity to share their stories in an open environment.