SpectrUM a haven for gay and lesbian students

When current SpectrUM secretary, sophomore Alex Suvall, was deciding where to attend college, the two key factors he looked for in schools were good weather and an active gay community.

SpectrUM is a club that provides support and organizes activities for all members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight community.

When the time came to decide, he was split between Boston University and the University of Miami.

Originally from Boca Raton, Fla., Suvall decided to make the short trip down to Miami to explore the latter of his two criteria.

“I wanted to come to campus to know what the gay life was like,” said Suvall. And what he encountered was the SpectrUM office on the second floor of the University Center.

From Oct. 5-9, SpectrUM sponsored the nationwide event “Coming Out Week” on campus at UM. The week featured a mix of both fun and serious events to spread awareness about equality issues and to encourage those who are not yet open about their homsexuality that there is support available.

“SpectrUM is more than just the gay club. We are a social organization aimed at fostering acceptance of people of all sexual orientations,” junior Aaron Esman, the club’s president, said.

“I would not have enjoyed being out in high school,” Suvall said of his private school in Broward County.

He did not fully come out until he entered college, and found the process to be a smooth one. What he found at SpectrUM, even before enrolling at UM, was an outlet and a group of people that were accepting and nonjudgmental.

Boston’s frigid weather was an obvious downside to the tropical climate Suvall was used to growing up. The choice was made. Suvall decided to become a Miami Hurricane.

Since that fateful trip to Coral Gables over a year ago, Suvall, now a sophomore geography major, has become active within the gay community on campus at UM.

SpectrUM’s office is home to endless resources such as books, movies and magazines for any individuals who are looking for answers about their sexual orientation or are merely curious about the homosexual lifestyle.

“It provides an environment for healthy growth. The coming out process is very complex,” Suvall said. “There are some people in SpectrUM who are not out. We provide students with group counseling.”

Suvall’s involvement within the gay community on campus has grown even more recently, as the primary steps have been made to begin a gay fraternity at the University of Miami.

Currently in its early stages as an interest group with seven members, a colonization petition has been submitted to begin the process. Suvall hopes to see the frat become a reality by the time he graduates in 2012, and with a lesbian sorority to follow – both firsts for the university.

“Miami is a great place to live and be comfortably open, especially South Beach,” Suvall said. “I have never faced any hatred [on campus at UM], no profane or derogatory comments at all.”

Despite this progressive and accepting nature of our student body as a whole, Suvall addresses SpectrUM’s role as an alley to those who are not yet comfortable with their sexual orientation.

“We want to meet them halfway. We want them to know that we’re there,” Suvall said.

October 26, 2009


Katey Ceccarelli

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.