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Fine By Me is an idea worth spreading with TEDx at Ohio State

Rose Zhou / Lantern photographer

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The weeklong campaign Fine By Me is embracing the motto “Ideas Worth Spreading,” and the idea is fine by some students, but not so fine by others.

Nonprofit TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, collaborated in an independent project with Ohio State’s Fine By Me campaign to spread LGBT awareness around campus. The collaboration is titled TEDxOhioStateUniversity.

“We are not trying to persuade anyone or change opinions,” said Jordan Kelsey, a third-year in Spanish and comparative studies who is also founder and president of Fine By Me. “We are just trying to give a voice to people who already support us.”

The Fine By Me campaign followed President Barack Obama’s announcement of his support for same-sex marriage May 9. Kelsey said planning for the campaign has been in the works all year and was not started after Obama’s announcement, but by Ross Mathews’ availability to come to campus.

“It really couldn’t have happened at a better time, I think it’s a topic that’s been in the news a lot recently and will continue to be until federal action happens,” Kelsey said of Obama’s declaration.

Mathews, who has made regular appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Chelsea Lately,” kicked off the Fine By Me campaign Monday at an Ohio Union Activities Board-sponsored event held in the Ohio Union’s Performance Hall.

While Mathews discussed his life experiences and career success with students, Kelsey took a greater message from Mathews about knowing yourself, loving yourself and being able to make fun of yourself sometimes.

The campaign collaborated with TEDx to present its second event Tuesday at Barnes & Noble, located at 1598 N. High St.

According to its website, the TEDx program is designed to bring TED experiences to the local level through independently organized events.

The event featured information from TED.com as well as a guest speaker from OSU, Chris Woods, a graduate student in higher education and student affairs. Woods gave a TEDx showcase speech with the theme “When I dare to be powerful.”

Encouraging OSU students to dare to make impact on the issues they are passionate about, LGBT rights or not, Woods told students to find a way to be the change they wish to see in the world.

“Don’t think you are too young to change the world, start now, start today,” Woods said. “We are in a period of change.”

Jordan Edelheit, president of TEDxOhioStateUniversity and a second-year in public affairs, said she thinks TED’s motto, “Ideas Worth Spreading,” is relevant to OSU and college settings in general.

“Creating an environment of open-mindedness is essential in order for us to reach our full potential as a community,” Edelheit said.

Woods said he is happy to see OSU students following their passions, and daring themselves to be powerful in the face of diversity.

In order to create a strong visual support system that exists all over campus, another part of the campaign is to distribute 500 free shirts that read, “Gay? I’m cool with that …”

Only 60 out of 500 shirts were left after two days of distribution, Kelsey said.

While some people were dodging the offer of the shirts, Kelsey said it was fine by him because people have different opinions about LGBT topics, and his goal is not to persuade beliefs.

Bruce Lamb, a third-year in computer science, said he doesn’t support homosexuality regardless of advocacy efforts.

“I’m a Christian, and I believe the King James Bible is the word of God, and being gay is a direct offense of that,” Lamb said.

Lamb said although he feels strongly about the topic, he will not address anyone about sexuality unless approached about it.

“I’m not going to hold a bible in my hand and be a public preacher if I see those guys passing out shirts,” Lamb said.

Kelsey Spahr, a forth-year in human development and family science, said she thinks being gay is technically a sin, but she believes people have their rights and the Lord would not turn his back on anyone just because of their sexuality.

“I would love a gay person as much as I would love my straight friend,” Spahr said.

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