By Shannah Cotton, Assistant Editor
LinQ, the LGBTQ social, support group on campus, is held every Wednesday in the Psychology building from 7-9 pm.
Currently the group is being led by Natasha Lekes, a new faculty member and clinical psychologist in the Psychology Department who recently started this fall. Lekes took the place of Brian Kaufman, a Psychology Professor who is presently on medical leave].
During meetings, a wide range of topics are breached, including coming out, familial expectations, and societal pressures.
“What’s nice about this is it’s really just people coming together and caring and supporting each other” said Lekes.
Meetings are not just for University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) students anymore; community members have been welcomed into meetings for the past 20 years.
Community member, Lisa Daniels* started going to meetings with her teenage son less than two years ago. At first, she thought she had attended to be a supportive parent to her son. “What I didn’t realize was the first meeting gave me great insight into a lot of the feelings and confusions that I have been experiencing for many years around my own sexuality. Low and behold I came out of the closet that evening,” said Daniels.
The LinQ is also supplied with a lending library of LGBT literature “In honor of Gary Lisherness, a gay man from Strong who was a graduate of UMF,” said Kaufman.
Before Kaufman arrived on campus in 1990, there was a much different sort of support group here on campus. “Individuals who were suspected of being gay, bisexual, or lesbian received a phone call from the group’s facilitator inviting them to attend the meetings, and the location wasn’t divulged until you had gone through that interview process,” said Kaufman in a recent email interview. The secretive nature of the group was due to the lack of protections for LGBTQ people during the time period.
At every meeting food and beverages are provided as well as literature and support.
“It helped me understand that my feelings and attractions for the same sex are normal, it educated me and gave me a place to talk about my feelings about coming out of the closet and being gay,” said Daniels, who has been a member of LinQ for one and a half years.
“Somehow the low-key name ‘Q-Squared’ was misprinted as ‘Q-Squad,’ and thinking it had a nice ‘ring’ to it, that is how it was known for the next several years,” said Kaufman. Eventually, he was informed that some people were afraid to attend because the group sounded as if it was an activist group.
Finally a few years ago the name LinQ was discovered “referring to the group being a “link” and a lifeline to information and support about issues of concern to the collection of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals commonly referred to as the ‘queer community,” said Kaufman.
*Names have been changed to protect the person’s privacy.