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Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


The Intersectionality of Blackness and Queerness: A Panel Discussion

Oct. 26, 2020

Join us for a new panel entitled "The Intersectionality of Blackness and Queerness: A Panel Discussion." This event will take place on Wednesday, October 28th, 6:30-8:00PM EST and is free and open to the public.

graphic depicting the event title, date/time, and photos of moderator and panelists

Black people who are members of the LGBTQ+ community (broadly referred to here as “Queer”) have unique experiences because they belong to multiple marginalized social identity groups and their identities intersect in complex ways. How does the intersection of these identities shape the lives of Black Queer individuals? This 90-minute panel discussion will feature a diverse group of Black Queer community leaders and will be moderated by local educator and activist, Izetta Nicole. Panelists (see below) will describe their experiences with issues such as: navigating predominantly white, heteronormative spaces and what that means for authentic self-expression at work; balancing advocacy and activism at work and “real” life; coping with the cumulative trauma of Blackness and Queerness; and positionality within the current social and racial justice uprisings and the Black Lives Matter movement. The moderated panel discussion will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with attendees.

To register, please click here. If you have any questions about accessibility or wish to request accommodations, please contact Alicia Baca ( Typically a two weeks' notice will allow us to provide seamless access.

Poet, personality and emcee, Izetta Nicole (she/her/hers) has performed on various local and national stages. She has served as a panelist at various conventions including Geek Girl Con Seattle and Cincinnati Comic Expo. Izetta is known for speaking on inclusivity in media, social justice topics and gender related studies in early childhood education. As a moderator, mc and poet, Izetta has worked with local organizations such as The Ohio State University, Creative Control Fest, Streetlight Guild, ComFest, the Columbus Education Association and more. Izetta won the 2013 Columbus Arts Festival poetry contest. She continues her career as an educator, hosts a weekly FB Live show entitled Auntie Zettie's Read Aloud Time and is a staff writer for

Devon Ayers
(he/him/his), Columbus Ohio's very own Gender-Bred Man, is a multi-award winning pageant king and promoter, and reigning Mr. Ohio Burlesque. He is the founder of Gentleman Ayers Entertainment, co-producer of the Ohio Burlesque Festival, former co-producer of Ohio Burlypicks Solid Gold and one-half of the production powerhouse Foxx-Ayers Production. Devon has worked to challenge gender norms through art, education and advocacy for years but having the opportunity to speak words of empowerment out loud drove him to play a much more active role in his trans community and subsequently led to him being asked to serve on the board of Columbus’ annual Trans Pride March committee. He brings a wealth of event planning and organizing experience to every table he is brought to.

Brandon C. Chapman (he/him/his) is the CEO of The Chapman Consulting Group, LLC manages community programs, and partnerships throughout Central Ohio. His professional background is in workforce development, community development, education, and non-profit management. Brandon is a graduate of Wilberforce University in Organizational Management. He is Chairman of Africentric Personal Development Shop Board of Trustees, he is an executive committee member on Stonewall Pride.

Karen Hewitt (Ze/Hir/She/Her), MAED is passionate about the heart work of advocacy, transformative justice, empathetic leadership, education, creativity, and connection. Currently, Ze serves as Deputy Director for Kaleidoscope Youth Center in Columbus, OH - the largest and longest-standing organization in Ohio solely dedicated to supporting LGBTQIA+ youth. Karen also facilitates and consults in Diversity Management and Workforce Development. Ze is very active in the Columbus local artist scene as a performer, writer, poet, singer, healer, curator and creative. She is a published author and an event curator. Karen is committed to doing the work of holding space to create connection, belonging and community. Karen serves on a variety of committees, commissions, and collectives in Columbus to further advance the work of social justice and create visibility and representation for Black, Queer, Non-Gender Conforming/Non-Binary intersections in these spaces. She is a non-negotiable stand for the most marginalized and the dignity and value of every human life.

Leisan C. Smith (she/her/hers) is a mom, wife, an educator and advocate. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, but is a proud Bearcat, earning her B.A. in Communication and a Masters in Educational Foundations with a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Cincinnati. Leisan has served in management positions in the Cincinnati area at a charter high school, a pre-college program and at the university level. Most recently she was the inaugural Director of the University of Cincinnati’s LGBTQ Center. In the fall of 2015, she moved back to Columbus and joined Bexley City Schools as the Director of Student & Community Engagement.  Her goals focus on addressing non-academic barriers to success for students. In this role, she oversees school climate initiatives and work that includes social/emotional development, mental health, and diversity/equity/inclusion. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for Kaleidoscope Youth Center (KYC). KYC is the largest and longest-standing organization in Ohio solely dedicated to serving and supporting queer youth. They work to provide a safer place, programming, and leadership opportunities so that youth can be free to explore who they are and empowered to become their confident, truest self. Leisan is dedicated to helping communities that are often marginalized find their voice and have a place at the table.  She works to make sure that conversations about diversity and inclusion are intersectional.