The fight for inclusion and equality can be something as big as a pride parade or as small as rainbow flag bumper sticker. In Texas Southern University Grad Moses Mbai's case, it was getting the rainbow flag hung on campus. In a post made to Facebook on May 9th he proudly announced his victory:
Today, May 9, 2017 on the campus of Texas Southern University, my dream towards LGBTQ Equality and Inclusion has made one closer step towards fruition. Having received hundreds of signatures from the student body, faculty and staff the symbol of Equality now hangs in one of the most populated areas on campus, the Ernest Sterling Student Life Center!
My intention as the 8th Mister Texas Southern University has been to make sure that all students, especially those who identify as a member of collegiate LGBTQ community here at TSU, feel welcome, safe and included here on our beloved campus. I now celebrate this accomplishment with all of you
We sat down with Moses to get some background on what prompted him to take action, his newly formed scholarship fund and if he received any negative reactions to the flag's placement.
What was your motivation behind starting the scholarship fund?
As the 8th Mister T.S.U., I wanted to start a tangible initiative that would connect all students, alumni, faculty, and staff for a cause that would celebrate students, like myself, who are members of the collegiate LGBT community. From a simple dream, the Moses Mbai Equality Scholarship was born. I started raising awareness and raising funds by receiving signatures on my Equality Flag from as many students, faculty, and staff on campus who support the cause.
What if any type of push back did you receive from those who opposed it?
I was quite appalled but not surprised by some of the push back I received from the students on campus. It was many students who I walked up to and I explained the purpose of the flag--equal rights for LGBTQIA identified students here on campus; and they refused to sign it. I received discouragement mainly from our international students who come from countries who do not support the LGBTQIA community in thought or practice. Although I identify as a half Kenyan African American male, I did not let the discouragement that I received from being the voice for young Africans who wish but cannot live in their truth.
What type of groups are you involved with on campus and how have they supported your decision?
I am currently the 8th Mister T.S.U., which is an office in the Executive branch of the 69th Student Government Association (SGA) administration. I am also member of the collegiate chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma on campus, which is an International Business Honor Society. Since I was sworn in as the 8th Mister T.S.U., I haven’t received much support fellow my cabinet members. Although I had not received assistance and support from my colleagues in the Student Government Association all school year, I naturally became self-sufficient. When I made the decision to start the Moses Mbai Equality Scholarship and the Equality Flag, with the help of student supporters, we operated, organized, and handled a lot of the specifics ourselves. Once the scholarship and flag received the publicity that I had hoped for, I began to receive a ton of support from students outside of SGA and that was suffice .
How did your upbringing play a role in why you wanted to do this for your campus?
I can acknowledge that it was knowledge, skills, and wisdom that I attained over the years from my parents that has prepared me to be the distinctive leader and advocate that I am now. As an openly gay Black man walking around the campus of a Historically Black institution with a Rainbow flag petitioning for equality, I often felt alienated. This experience has been a nerve-racking, yet well worth one. My upbringing taught me that at times when I’m outside of my comfort zone someone will always be there to encourage me to press forward despite the obstacles ahead.
We wish Moses all the best in the future and congrats on graduating!