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8 S u m m e r 2 0 0 4

National Public Radio, Motown singer

Martha Reeves, and Governor Jennifer

Granholm all feature prominently in the

story of Kaleidoscope, Kalamazoo College’s

renamed (and refocused) gay, lesbian,

bisexual, and transgender student support

group. Formerly known as the GLBSO (Gay,

Lesbian, Bisexual Student Organization),

Kaleidoscope was the brainchild of senior

Phillip Kotzan. Last summer, Kotzan revised

the GLBSO’s mission statement (and came up

Kaleidoscope Colors

by Elizabeth A. Haas ’98

1 Joe Tracz, Phillip Kotzan, and

James Pollock, all seniors, have taken

Kaleidoscope, Kalamazoo College’s

gay and lesbian student support

organization, into the new millennium.

2 Members of Kaleidoscope enjoy a

brush with gubernatorial greatness at

a November fundraising dinner held in

honor of the Human Rights Campaign.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm

is third from the left.

with the group’s new name) to reflect "a more

cohesive, inclusive, and visible group that

supports gay, lesbian, and bisexual students."

The group also brings awareness to transgender

lifestyles and to issues important to both

gay students and straight friends of gay

students. With help from classmates and coleaders

James Pollock and Joe Tracz, Kotzan

has continued the GLBSO’s efforts to eliminate

homophobia on campus and create a safe

space for gay students. Their approach,

however, has been a bit more high profile.

Harnessing a mixture of entertainment

and political activism, Kotzan, Pollock, and

Tracz have succeeded in building awareness

throughout the College of their vision of

tolerance, acceptance, and campus unity. The

new, multi-faceted face of Kaleidoscope (they

currently boast 25 members) debuted last

October during National Coming Out Week,

setting the tone for the busy year to come. The

week was peppered with the traditional

campus-wide sidewalk chalkings and

student/faculty panels, but the group also

delivered some surprises: most notably the

creation of a quilt composed of fellow

students’ encouraging statements and a

coming-out dinner that has since become a

twice-monthly tradition.

The organization helped educate

students, staff, and faculty on a number of

"tough" topics, among them religion and homosexuality

and gay marriage. Last January

Kotzan and company mediated a highly

informative discussion titled "Queerituality" that

included local clergy of all denominations who

fielded questions from students—straight and

gay alike—on issues of spirituality and the gay

lifestyle. The response was overwhelming and

the Olmsted Room packed. Shortly thereafter,

Kotzan and a few other Kaleidoscope

members traveled to Lansing to support

lobbyists in their bid to prevent the State of

Michigan from passing an amendment that

would ban gay marriage. This trip resulted in

Kotzan’s friendship with Sean Kosofsky,

director of public policy for the Triangle

Foundation and one of Michigan’s foremost

lobbyists for gay rights.

Kosofsky visited campus a few weeks

later to host a same-sex marriage forum, which

attracted local news coverage. Kaleidoscope

is no stranger to publicity; in March, the group

was featured on the front page of the

Kalamazoo Gazette following a downtown-

Kalamazoo rally protesting a proposed U.S.

constitutional amendment prohibiting gay

marriage.

Kaleidescope’s connection to the world

of politics deepened when some of its

members met with Michigan Governor Jennifer

Granholm. In mid-November, 15 members of

Kaleidoscope had been asked to help

organize a black-tie fundraising gala for the

Detroit chapter of the Human Rights Coalition.

Jennifer Granholm was the keynote speaker.

Volunteers arrived two days early to decorate,

stuff goodie bags, set up tables, and handle

sound equipment. The group was also invited

to attend the dinner, at which Granholm

thanked them for their efforts in her address to

the crowd. "The governor gave a special shout

out to the group and to Kalamazoo College,"

says co-leader Tracz. More importantly, he

says, "We really made our presence felt

among a crowd largely composed of conservatives.

A lot of career networking went on

too," he adds. "I wouldn’t be surprised if this

event leads to future internships in Washington

D.C. for Kalamazoo College students." Another

highpoint of the Motown-themed dinner was

the performance of legendary singer Martha

Reeves (of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas).

In the spring, Kaleidoscope encouraged

the campus community to observe a day of

silence to recognize voices silenced when

homophobia goes unchallenged. Western

Michigan University and five local high schools

participated in the event, and Kaleidoscope

ventured into the high schools to offer confidential

counseling and moral support. "We visit

these schools a lot," says Kotzan, "in the

hopes that the students there can see us as

role models and begin to feel more comfortable

in their sexuality as well as cope with the

daily pressures of being a gay teenager." A

short segment on the day of silence was

featured on National Public Radio later that

week.

Though they seem to be constantly interacting

with the media, the leaders of

Kaleidoscope are also weary of the way in

which gays and lesbians are portrayed on tel-

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