Cole expressed he preferred to have an interview summary available online and to keep the audio interview offline within the archives. If you are interested in hearing the full interview, please contact the IU East Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below are the highlights, with the question listed first followed by summary of his response.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Born at Reid Hospital in Richmond, IN and grew up in Union County, IN.
Growing up, what were your perceptions of LGBTQ people?
There wasn’t a real big LGBTQ+ presence in [his] hometown growing up, not that [he] was aware of. Didn’t really think about it too much.
When you figured out this aspect of your identity, how did it impact your personal life?
Didn’t fully realize that [he] was gay until [he] was a sophomore in college. Looking back, [he] can see things from [his] childhood and teenage years that pointed to it.
Questioned a lot of things and self-discovery. Didn’t know much about or see much [LGBTQ representation/presence] while growing up. Talked to some friends and researched culture online.
What were your fears in coming out? (Are they out?)
Came out to some people; parents, some siblings, and close friends. Not out publicly and not out at church. Fears people at [his] church will not be accepting.
Where did you go to school?
Went to college at IU East (super supportive). Graduated in May 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Social Work. Currently working as a Student Advocate at IU East.
How did you get involved with LGBTQS+ Alliance at IU East?
While a student at IU East, joined the Alliance at IU East after realizing he was gay. Started out attending meetings around spring or fall of 2017. The following semester, one of the co-presidents left and Cole stepped up and took on a leadership role as vice-president. Fall of 2018, Cole became president of the Alliance during his senior year.
What kind of activities did the Alliance host or partake in?
The Alliance held several events last year. Cole organized a tabling event for National Coming Out Day on October 18th (visibility for the group, as well as providing information about coming out), two IHOP fundraisers (people could attend with the group or by themselves, tell the server that they were there to support the Alliance and 10% of the order proceeds went to the Alliance)- pretty successful in raising money for the group.
In the spring of 2019, the Alliance held a Game Night (Board games, socializing, pizza party), the LGBTQS+ Alliance Spring Drag Show (attracts a lot of campus and community members, spreads awareness of the LGBTQ+ community, and raised money for Muncie OutReach), both were popular events.
What were the Alliance goals?
Alliance Goals- not necessarily written down, but want to make their presence known. “So, students know there is a safe place that they can come and talk to one of us or all of us… to educate and spread awareness of what the LGBTQ+ community is…what the different parts of the community are, to spread the awareness that we are normal people too.”
Who are the faculty advisors?
Deborah Miller [Assistant Professor of Psychology] is the current faculty advisor.
Do you feel like the campus is supportive of the Alliance?
The IU East campus is supportive of the Alliance. The National Coming Out Day tabling event was the first time Cole sat out, associated with the Alliance, and [he] was nervous at first, but received a lot of positive reaction. Rebeckah Hester, Director of Campus Life, and Jason Troutwine, the Vice Chancellor of External Affairs, were also “super supportive of his efforts and glad to see the Alliance involved on campus.”
Is there a local LGBTQ resource or organization in the community you utilize?
The Alliance has partnered with Muncie Outreach, an LGBTQ+ organization in Muncie, IN [about an hour north of Richmond], where the organization benefited from the proceeds at the last two Alliance Drag Shows.
There is also Rainbow Richmond, which reorganized this past year . The first Rainbow Richmond Pride Festival occurred in June of 2019, and Cole did attend that.