Students, faculty, and staff attended the tea party to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and make new connections. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

On Tuesday, the Office of Student Life hosted an LGBTQ+ tea party for the KCC community and had a turnout of approximately 50 people. This is the first LGBTQ+ event that has taken place since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it provided attendees with the opportunity to meet LGBTQ+-identified students, staff, and faculty and learn about resources on campus and in the community that provides support.

The idea for the event, held in the Kamokila Student Center, was the product of a collaboration between Romyn Sabatchi, the director of Student Life, and Micah Tutuvanu, the Student Congress president.

“I believe it is my duty to create an inclusive and safe environment for Kapiʻolani Community College regardless of people’s sexual orientation,” Tutuvanu said. “This event will help bring people together and empower them. For Student Congress, we do plan to have events based around the LGBTQ community. For the fall semester, it’s likely we will have an event, though it’s not set in stone.”

Misaki Takabayashi, the new chancellor of KCC, also attended the event and shared her connection to the LGBTQ+ community.

“I actually identify as lesbian and I moved here with my same-sex partner,” Takabayashi said. “One of my mentors used to say, ‘As long as we’re talking about it, we haven’t achieved equality.’ I didn’t get to talk about this in my interview for the chancellor position, but we haven’t achieved equality, I don’t think. Just know that I am here as your chancellor, and we can talk about anything.”

An LGBTQ+ and tea party-themed cake from Little Miss Hula’s Bakery was split among event attendees. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

Students, staff, and faculty who are allies of the LGBTQ+ community came out to show their support.

“As an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, I think my responsibility is to be available for students,” said Nadine Wolff, a Math professor at KCC. “It’s important that student voices are heard and that their needs are being met.”

During the tea party, attendees were able to rotate through each resource booth and learn more about what services are offered and how to receive support.

The KCC-based resources included the Kaʻau Mental Health Program, Title IX, VITAL, and the PAU Violence Coalition. The Kaʻau Program for Student Mental Health and Wellness provides confidential, personal counseling, and community referral services to registered Kapiʻolani Community College students. Title IX is a resource that will investigate and resolve complaints regarding sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. The Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program is comprised of mental health professionals that can assist and provide veteran students with various services, support, and resources. The PAU Violence Coalition aims to raise awareness of gender-based violence and to support and strengthen efforts with prevention education.

Community organizations such as the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation, the Hawaiʻi Health and Harm Reduction Center, and the Hawaiʻi Gay Kickball League also attended the event. The Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation supports LGBTQ+ people in living happy, healthy, and productive lives. This foundation is known to organize the annual Honolulu Pride Parade, which will take place this year on Saturday, Oct. 21. The Hawai’i Health and Harm Reduction Center, formerly known as The Life Foundation, serves local communities by reducing harm and fighting the stigma of HIV, hepatitis, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, and poverty. The Hawai’i Gay Kickball League is one of the gay sports leagues in Hawai’i. Other gay sports leagues include flag football, volleyball, bowling, and softball. The sports leagues are co-ed and have seasons year-round with weekly sessions on Saturdays at Kapiʻolani Park.

“Everybody needs help,” said Andrew Ogata, the Director of Marketing and Development at HHHRC. “That’s what we’re here for, and I hope more people are willing to take advantage of that.”