Above left: Tyler Oakley
This year, MSU will celebrate its first openly gay Homecoming Grand Marshall, Tyler Oakley. Oakley is an influential YouTube vlogger who has used his digital platform to connect with the LGBTQ community and accomplish his many activist projects. “It is important for the Spartan family, particularly in the political times we live in, to remember that LGBT members are an important member of that family and welcoming the first openly gay homecoming grand marshall is a significant step,” says Michael Lee, President of MSU’s GLBT Alumni Association.
An openly gay Grand Marshall is a novelty, but the Annual GLBT Alumni Association Homecoming Reception is in its twelfth year. On Friday, October 20th the Association will welcome GLBT alumni, students, and friends to the Kellogg Center.
The GLBT Alumni Association was founded 25 years ago by alumni of the university, many of whom were also staff at the time with a goal of connecting with students before they leave East Lansing. This event, according to Lee, is the Association’s “crown jewel,” a time for alumni to come home and reconnect with each other and with the GLBT youth on campus today.
“We have a strong activist legacy of making the University more accountable to having an inclusive environment,” says Lee, who remembers a time when the atmosphere on campus was much different. “It’s changed dramatically since I was an undergrad,” he recalls “and alumni have played a role in that.”
GLBT Alumni Association members from all over the country continue to support GLBT youth and other students who may feel subject to discrimination on campus today, and this event is part of that. According to Lee, “The courage and bravery it took for people to be openly gay and out in public is represented in these accomplishments…We are uniquely positioned to talk about these issues, Muslim students, dreamers, refugees, any number of backgrounds, the recognition of all the different ways that persons identity effects their experience on campus."
Friday’s reception at Kellogg Center will offer food and drink, and a cash bar will be available. MSU Special Collections will display items from the LGBT Special Collections, a unique assortment of rare books, magazines, historical pamphlets, newspapers, and pride guides on subjects ranging from the gay and lesbian liberation moments to AIDS and queer theory. Dee Hurlbert, Director of MSU’s LGBT Resource Center will introduce student scholarship members who will be recognized for their accomplishments.
For the first time this year, tickets for the GLBT Alumni Homecoming Reception are available online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/12th-annual-glbt-alumni-homecoming-reception-tickets-38019661832. Tickets are $10 for students and $20 for general admission. “We have these [events] to keep us in touch with who we are, who our community is and keep us moving towards a more just and fair society,” Says Lee, “And LGBT Spartans have made significant contributions in that way. This is a chance for people to recognize that.”