LGBTQ Resource Center hosts 15th annual Catalyst Awards

There were nine award winners this year, including Mizzou Athletics.

The 15th annual Catalyst Awards were an opportunity to speak about those who speak up, speak out and speak often for the LGBTQ community.

Nine recipients received the award Tuesday night: Mizzou Athletics, Paul Reeves, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Hassan Williams, Jolie Justus, Taylor Dukes, the Office of Disability Services, Emily Andsager and Mackenzie Thiessen.

All recipients were nominated by their peers and then chosen by a selection committee. The number of winners changes every year.

“The Catalyst Awards are for those who speak up and out and often, and that looks different every year,” LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Struby Struble said. “You can make change in the LGBTQ community in so many different ways, and we want to make sure we honor that every year.”

Struble said one of the more unique recipients this year was Mizzou Athletics, which received an award for taking a stand against homophobia, bigotry and discrimination in the athletic program.

“The athletics administration has taken multiple steps in multiple ways to make athletics a safe place for all student athletes,” Sruble said. “Starting that conversation and taking that stand was big.”

Triangle Coalition Vice President Paul Reeves received two nominations. His award was an accumulation of four years of involvement in the LGBTQ community as vice president of TriCo and a volunteer at the LGBTQ Resource Center. He also helped make an LGBT eating disorder brochure and program, ran the campus drag show and did Queer Monologues.

“When you add up all he’s done, it’s really hard to measure the impact he’s had on this campus,” Struble said.

Winning the award was amazing, Reeves said.

“It was something I’ve wanted and aspired to and is a great honor,” Reeves said. “It shows that everything I did and the time I put in was appreciated and did some good.”

The Rev. Molly Housh Gordon received the award for her work disrupting the stereotypes that LGBTQ members cannot be Christian and Christians do not like LGBTQ people, Struble said.

“That’s a misguided stereotype because LGBT people come from all different beliefs and backgrounds, and Christians come from all different beliefs and backgrounds,” she said. “She’s done a lot of work to point that we’re all individual, complicated beings.”

Sophomore Hassan Williams won the award for reinvigorating the organization Queer People of Color.

“He’s had an individual impact on numerable students on our campus,” Struble said. “He fits the gap where we talk about the intersection of race and sexuality.”

State Sen. Jolie Justus was another community award winner, who won because of her work advancing LGBTQ rights in the state legislature. Justus is the first and only out lesbian senator in Missouri and has been the Senate sponsor for the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act. The act adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination clause.

“That policy will greatly affect our students on campus and in their lives, so we want to celebrate that, a: she is out and proud because she’s an excellent role model, and b: she is sponsoring these bills that will help us,” Struble said.

TriCo President Taylor Dukes won the award for kickstarting TriCo, Struble said. Before she was president, the organization had between five and 10 regular members. Now it has between 30 and 40.

“If people know about LGBT issues, it’s partly because she’s worked so hard to make it happen,” Struble said.

The Office of Disability Services won its award for transcribing the LGBTQ Resource Center’s InsideOUT weekly radio show on KCOU. The transcriptions allow people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to read the broadcast.

“They made an existing resource accessible to a group that could not previously,” Struble said.

Emily Andsager won her award for her extensive work with LGBT health care. She made a LGBT-friendly health care provider list for students and made a learning module for the School of Health Professions.

“That not only serves LGBT health consumers … but serves all of our health profession students so they are accurately trained on the issues they may face on the job,” Struble said. “The reach of her (project) is extremely wide.”

The last recipient was Mackenzie Thiessen, who created a Missourians for Marriage Equality Facebook page and helped a friend who came out.

“When I got the award, I cried a little,” Thiessen said. “Knowing I made a difference for someone else (by) helping someone."

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