Cultural Identity Discussion Focuses on LGBTQ+ Issues


Williston has a monthly gathering where students and faculty present information about different topics to broaden the community’s perspective and cultural awareness.

The second Cultural Identity Discussion (CID) of the year’s topic was LGBT and Allies.

There were three speakers at this event: Head Athletic Trainer Rob Kearney, junior Judah Ebanks, freshman Anaya Akpalu, and Duncan Laird, the Director of Psychological Counseling Services.

Kearney talked about his coming out story and being the only known and out professional strongman, a sport known for its hyper-masculine feats of strength.

Judah Ebanks spoke about being an out male in the Cayman Islands, where many Jamaicans live. Jamaican culture is not welcoming to homosexuality, and gay men are often targets of violent crime.

Anaya spoke about her very close friend who transitioned. Duncan Laird was joined by his mother Joan Laird, who has been with her partner for 60 years. She talked about her experience being a lesbian in the 60’s and 70’s while having a child. Laird talked about his experience having two moms.

Senior A’Kayla Williams attended this CID, and loved her experience.

“I love CID and I think it’s a great addition to our campus,” she stated. “It’s a great way to listen to stories that you won’t typically hear from first meeting a person.”

CID is a safe space for students and faculty to share their stories and opinions.

A’Kayla said, “Being able to share personal stories makes campus feels more like home and a place to actually be your true self.”

“I loved hearing the stories and I felt grateful to be in the space where the presenters felt comfortable enough to share their stories and be vulnerable,” she added. “For the most part I think this topic of CID was perceived really well.”

A’Kayla is also looking forward to the next CID night, which she says is “about past, present, and future.”

Erin Davey, Williston’s Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Activities, Inclusion, and Diversity. Davey organizes the CIDs, and felt that this one was “outstanding.”

With the Cox room packed with nearly 50 people, Davey said, “It was the best CID I have ever been a part of in my seven years here.”