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Event Celebrates NECC’s LGBTQIA+ Community and Allyship 

Submitted by on June 30, 2023 – 2:51 pm

“Allyship is about promise, not perfection.”

Northern Essex Community College Chief Officer of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Francellis Quinones shared those words recently at the college’s inaugural “Celebrating Ourselves and Each Other” luncheon. The event, held on June 28 on the Haverhill Campus, gathered dozens of faculty and staff to celebrate NECC’s LGBTQIA+ community and to provide a forum to share some of the social justice issues related to the community, as well as the importance of courageous allyship.

“Celebrating Ourselves and Each Other” luncheon

“We have an opportunity, and an obligation, to act to maintain higher education as a location for LGBTQIA+ student development and learning, as well as to improve campus climate and increase inclusion,” remarked Quinones. “That’s where allyship comes in. Allyship is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust.”

Several campus leaders shared their personal stories, including Liberal Arts Dean Amy Callahan. She recalled a time when she had to withdraw her name from consideration for a faculty position at a private institution because she would have been forbidden to talk openly about being a lesbian.

“They wanted me to sign a paper that made me promise not to be gay,” remembered Callahan. “I’ve been aware over the years that there are certain places where it was not safe to be out…but I’ve always made a point of being out at work. And I have consciously avoided places where I was not welcome. Being out is worth it and rewarding.”

Provost Paul Beaudin shared his experiences dealing with bullies and living through the early days of the AIDS epidemic in New York City as a gay man. He reflected that, though many of the fears he had during those years have subsided, recent events like book bans and attacks on drag performers have brought new concerns to light.

“I am not afraid, but I am more concerned in my sixties than I was in my forties and fifties,” he said. “I am concerned….because, in some states, diversity, equity, and inclusion is being stripped from the curriculum, because in some cities, drag entertainers can now be arrested for performing on public streets, because in some school districts, LGBT children no longer enjoy the safety and protection in school that was somewhat recently afforded them.”

Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn captured Dr. Beaudin’s speech, and his own reflections, in a recent post in his Running the Campus blog. Read more here.

The NECC Center for Equity and Social Justice’s (CESJ) “Celebrating Ourselves and Each Other” initiative strives to enhance the NECC community by creating experiences that help foster respect and open-mindedness. It supports building bridges between NECC and the community and helps students, faculty, and staff, as well as the surrounding communities, build a sense of belonging.  The luncheon event was arranged jointly by the CESJ and the Student Affairs division and supported by a grant from the Million Dollar Roundtable Foundation under their Global Grants Program.

For more information on the NECC Center for Equity and Social Justice, contact Francellis Quinones.