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Open Doors extends open arms to entire campus community

Posing for a selfie to show off her outfit, sophomore music applied studies major Audrey Livingston prepares for the festivities at Open Doors' first annual

Posing for a selfie to show off her outfit, sophomore music applied studies major Audrey Livingston prepares for the festivities at Open Doors' first annual "Love is Love Dance" held on Jan. 27. Livingston joined Open Doors this past fall semester and is currently the fundraising committee chair (photo/Audrey Livingston)

Open heart. Open mind. Open doors.

This is the motto adopted by Open Doors, the LGBT+ organization at Ohio Northern University, that allows members of the LGBT+ community to come together and spread their message across the campus.

Senior music theory and composition major Cheyenne Cogan joined Open Doors during her freshman year after coming out as a lesbian just before coming to school. She said she found her safe haven in Open Doors.

I think it’s really important to promote love instead of hate this year, with everything that has been happening in the world,” Cogan said. “Lots of people are upset. There’s been a lot of hate speech out there, and I think it’s important to highlight that there is love out there, and that it is important to love each other.”

Open Doors was founded in 1996 when the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Alliance became a recognized student organization after being approved by Student Senate, 24-6. Since then, the organization has grown in size and presence across campus, allowing people of all backgrounds to come together.

“People know us as ‘gay club’; they think that it’s just gay people involved, but it’s really for everyone,” Cogan said. “We’re trying to tear down the stigma that’s out there. And that’s one of the major things we try to help remedy and help people understand more about transgender people, understand more about the LGBT+ community in general.”

This year, the group worked together to host the first annual “Love Is Love Dance” held on Jan. 27 to raise awareness about the LGBT+ community and promote acceptance and unity.

The group raised over $100, which will be used to host its main fundraiser, "A Rubi Affair."

Junior field biology major Drew Hoffman has been a member of Open Doors for three years.

“It’s just a good time for gay people to just get together and hang out,” Hoffman said. “I think that’s great, and I’m really excited for Rubi Affair.”

A Rubi Affair is the organization’s largest fundraiser, inviting The Rubi Girls, a group of gay men who dress in drag, to perform on campus. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18, and the money raised will be donated to the Lima Aids Resource Center (Lima ARC).

Cogan said the “Love is Love Dance” was inspired by the group’s theme this year, “Love is Love,” which is a reference to Tony-award winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Tony Award for Best Score. She said that while this is her last year involved in the organization, she hopes the group continues to share this message with the community.

“We are called Open Doors,” she said. “We try to embrace everybody who walks in the door. The acronym, or at least the one everyone sticks to, is LGBTQIA, and the ‘Q’ stands for questioning, and if you don’t know where exactly you fit, you still fit in with us. We still want you to be a part of the group and kind of just go on this journey of life with us.”

Open Doors meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Dean’s Heritage Room located in McIntosh Center.

It’s a huge thing to kind of find yourself, and if the group helps you, that’s fantastic,” Cogan said. “A lot of people have found themselves in this group, and some people have come and been exposed to more LGBTQ members, and have figured out, ‘Maybe this isn’t actually my lifestyle,’ but they’ve chosen to be an ally. It is a process, and we love to help people in any way we can."

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