One way to get involved with Mercer’s LGBTQ community is through Mercer’s gay/straight alliance Common Ground.
The club is an activism group for LGBTQ students on Mercer’s campus as well as a support group for members to discuss pressing issues in the LGBTQ community.
“You get really close to people because they become your chosen family,” Common Ground President Mcpherson Newell said.
He said that Mercer’s LGBTQ community is close-knit, but that does not necessarily mean its exclusive.
Newell said that the community is very open and welcoming to incoming members.
“The gays are great. It definitely is something that will bond you with people very quickly,” Newell said. “You understand a lot more about another person’s life when they are LGBTQ because a lot of us have had similar experiences or are dealing with similar experiences now.”
When he was a freshman, he said that he felt very encouraged by upperclassmen to get involved and there were many who gave him advice about everything from coming out to professors, to roommate issues, to finding LGBTQ affirming churches in Macon.
He said that his time at Mercer has also been filled with positive moments.
“There have definitely been some accepting and encouraging experiences, especially when we did the Founder’s Day protest and a lot of the faculty went out of their way to show their support or to make the rainbow ribbons that several people wore,” Newell said.
Common Ground host many events such as free AIDs testing on Worlds AIDs Day where they give out information about sexual health and encourage others to know their status, Newell said.
They also partner with the Mercer Medical School’s Gender and Sexuality to travel to Atlanta Pride and “interact with the broader LGBTQ community.”
The club has also participated in sexuality panels where they answer questions from students about being LGBTQ and what that is like on Mercer’s campus.
Junior Cefari Langford joined Common Ground when it was “very undercover,” and is still a member as the organization becomes more visible.
“(Mercer) is not as strict as it was a couple years ago but also not as open as it should be,” Langford said.
Langford acknowledges that Mercer has some ways to go when it comes to becoming an accepting environment for all students. They do, however, want incoming students to know that they always have a safe place to go to.
“You are not alone. We are here. There are so many of us if you ask. There is always somebody who can understand,” Langford said.