Current and former Ball State students share their experiences with Spectrum

<p>Tabitha Pierce (left) and Claire Wright (right) stand behind a table advertising Spectrum at the Happy Harvest Relationship event at Ball State last fall. Pierce is the outreach director for Spectrum. <strong>Claire Wright, Photo Provided</strong></p>

Tabitha Pierce (left) and Claire Wright (right) stand behind a table advertising Spectrum at the Happy Harvest Relationship event at Ball State last fall. Pierce is the outreach director for Spectrum. Claire Wright, Photo Provided

Brooklyn Arizmendi's last name was misspelled in a previous version, it has since been corrected.

Joey Glover didn’t know who he was or where he wanted to spend his college years until he found Ball State. For him, Ball State felt like home as soon as he stepped on campus, and Spectrum, Ball State’s LGBTQ support organization, was an opportunity for him to grow into himself as a person, he said.

Glover applied to 29 different colleges his senior year of high school. He said narrowing it down was difficult, but Ball State had the best community he could see.

“When I was on my tour, I felt like I was at home and that I could just flourish as a social human being,” Glover said.

Glover, Spectrum’s interim president, is a sophomore and is majoring in psychology. 

“I always knew that I was different when I was a kid,” Glover said. “I fit into gender norms up until about middle school with, like, physical things and characteristics with me, but once I started getting into middle school and high school, I started presenting myself in a different way.”

Glover realized he was bisexual in 2018, his sophmore year of high school. 

“I had originally come out as bisexual to myself sophomore year of high school, thinking that I like both men and women, and that was just it,” Glover said. “I was wrong.”

He came out as gay to his friends and peers in school his senior year. In the spring 2021 semester, Glover came out as non-binary, using they/them pronouns. Now, Glover identitfies as a transgender man who is genderfluid, using he/they pronouns.

“I'm not one to really care for labels, but I've been through a lot of them,” he said. “I feel like I've finally found myself.” 

Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, and Spectrum holds an event for it every year. This event gave Glover the courage to come out to his family.

Glover said, while his parents were supportive of his coming out, it was harder for them when he came out as non-binary.

“They've all been very accepting, family and friends wise. It was just more of a grammar issue for my mom and dad,” he said.

Spectrum is a student organization that provides social support to create an accepting and comfortable atmosphere, according to its Benny Link. It has been registered as a student organization since 1974, but has been through several different names. 

On the Ball State intent to organize form, the organization is called the Ball State Gay Alliance. That changed to the Lesbian Gay Student Alliance, and in 1994, it changed again to the Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay Student Association. The organization as the university now knows it is called Spectrum, and to Stephanie Turner, 1985 Ball State alumna, it is a fitting name.

“There's just a spectrum. I think that's a really appropriate name that you guys have,” Turner said. “It’s the way people work, you know. That's just kind of the complexity of life.”

Turner graduated from Ball State with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1982. She went back to Ball State for her master’s degree in English in 1983. It was then that she got involved with Spectrum. She said she and the rest of Spectrum would go to different classes and educate people on the LGBTQ community.

In 1984, Spectrum began focusing specifically on HIV/AIDS education.

“Some smarty pants would raise [their] hand and say, ‘What about AIDS?’ And we always had a wrapped condom ready to hand to them as a way to congratulate them for asking a very important question,” Turner said. “And it was really hilarious because people didn't even want to touch the wrap of the condom. It was like toxic or something because it was handed to them by a gay person. I'm not kidding. It was really that bad.”

While Turner and Spectrum dealt with many hostile people, she said they had fun with it because they were a “self-supporting community.”  

After Turner graduated from Ball State, she got involved with Justice, Inc., an Indianapolis-based gay rights activist group, and become the president of the board. 

She went to the 1987 March on Washington and the 1993 March on Washington. Both these marches dealt with LGBTQ rights, specifically to end discrimination around same-sex couples and people with AIDS. Turner said each march had “totally different vibes.”

Turner said the 1987 March on Washington was very somber. At that march, the AIDS memorial quilt was publicly displayed for the first time at the Smithsonian Mall. This quilt held names of people who died of AIDS. 

On the other hand, the 1993 March on Washington was celebratory, and Turner described it more along the lines of  a party. 

When the conversation about same-sex marriage became more popular in the 1990s, Turner didn’t want anything to do with it.

“There was this conversation about, ‘Well, should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?’ and I was just like, ‘I have no desire to marry’ — it was just such a heterosexual thing,” she said. “I wasn't even interested in thinking about it. But, then the conversation started to change and people were saying, ‘Well, look, there are actual benefits, legally, to … being able to marry someone.’”

Turner got married in 2014 in her partner’s home state of Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and on June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states — a day Turner will always remember.

“I just remember being on vacation with my wife, and we knew this Supreme Court decision was coming down, and I was taking the suitcases out to the car, we were getting ready to leave, and I could hear somebody’s TV on in one of the rooms adjacent to ours and it's just like, ‘And the Supreme Court has decided to uphold same-sex [marriage],” Turner said. “We were just like, ‘Wow!’ We had bought wedding rings on that trip and everything.”

Spectrum is an organization that has provided a safe place for LGBTQ Ball State students. Brooklyn Arizmendi, 2020 Ball State women and gender studies alumna and Spectrum’s president from 2017-19, said she was afraid of her sexual orientation while growing up in southern Indiana.Being a person of color in a predominantly white and religious area, it was easier for her to ignore her sexuality. When she first got involved in Spectrum, she said she was shy. 

“I was always there, even if I didn't speak in every single meeting, and just was present,” she said. “So, it was really cool because the executive board would reach out to me and invite me to things and ask to hang out with me.”

Arizmendi said Spectrum influenced her current career as a youth development specialist, where she provides people in systems — juvenile detention foster care and residential facilities — knowledge about sexual health. She said she eventually aims to be a therapist that specializes in LGBTQ youth.

“Being involved with Spectrum and getting in so early kind of forced me to stop being so scared of people and speaking, and I feel like it was really an integral part of growing up to be who I am today,” she said.

Contact Krystiana Brosher with comments at or on Twitter @Krystiana_21.


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