Saturday, April 05, 2014

Aaron's Response To B-Daht

As you TransGriot readers are aware of courtesy of the viral post I wrote earlier this week (14,000 hits and counting), some homophobic hating broke out in reaction to Winston-Salem State University junior Aaron McCorkle's run for Mr WSSU.  

102 Jamz DJ and WSSU alum Brian 'B-Daht' McLaughlin let fly with some homophobic tweets of his own that poured gasoline on this toxic situation. 

In the run up to Wednesday's election that unfortunately Aaron lost, WSSU Chancellor Donald J. Reaves in a statement concerning the rapidly escalating controversy said in response:

“Winston-Salem State University strives to be a campus where diversity can thrive. We believe strongly that the educational environment is enriched by the unique attributes, perspectives and outlooks embodied in the people who make up our university family and community. Words or actions that seek to marginalize any person or group constitute unacceptable behavior and are not tolerate.”

McLaughlin apologized for the tweets, but the damage to McCorkle's Mr. WSSU campaign had already been done.   Brandon Bowden garnered 727 votes to McCorkle’s 565.   

In the wake of this, a petition has been created asking WSSU to not only add gender identity and expression the EEO policy, but mandate institution wide Safe Zone training.

McCorkle has responded to McLaughlin's apology in a letter I was sent a copy of by Chevara Orrin of       

April 4, 2014

To Whom It May Concern:

My candidacy for Mr. WSSU and the events that have followed have deeply impacted me.  I am eternally grateful for the WSSU family and others across the nation that stood beside me and believed in me, even as attacks have been made against me.  I am also heartened that Brian "B-Daht" McLaughlin has apologized for the statements h made which questioned both my candidacy and my fitness for office because I am --unapologetically--a Black gay man. 

While I accept Mr. McLaughlin's apology, I hope he is willing to learn why his actions were so destructive.  I hope he will challenge his limited understanding of our vast and varied differences as human being by joining me in the advocating for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU).  It is not enough to apologize if you are not willing to be the change you wish to see in the world.  

Poet and novelist Audre Lorde said, "It is not our differences that divide us.  It is the inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences."  

This tragic circumstance has created an opportunity for us as a WSSU family to begin an authentic dialogue about how to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community.  I invite Mr.McLaughlin to join me in calling on our university to expand its non-discrimination policy to include gender identity and expression, to mandate LGBT sensitivity and Safe Zone training for its students, faculty and staff, and to hold a campus wide dialogue about homophobia that includes myself, Mr. McLaughlin, the Chancellor and other members of the WSSU community.  I believe this is just a starting point to creating a campus climate and culture of inclusion that we can all be proud of.


Aaron McCorkle
Winston-Salem State University
Class of 2015

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