Recently, the Point Foundation, the country's largest publicly-supported organization that grants scholarships to LGBT students, honored 38 individuals with its monetary awards—the most in its six-year history. Windy City Times spotlights four of these bright students, all of whom have local ties.
Ali Abbas, 20, DePaul University
-Coming out: Abbas came out his last year in high school and is the first to admit that the process was not easy. 'It was pretty difficult, although I already was not really accepted for being Arab,' he said.
-A matter of color: One thing that disturbs Abbas is the racism that he has witnessed within the gay community. 'When I moved to Chicago, I was really excited. I thought that the gay community would know what it's like to be marginalized,' the philosophy major said. 'However, when I got here, I realized that you're not accepted unless you're the white, masculine, Abercrombie, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing jock, and my nappy, curly hair is not going in that direction. That's even reflected in [ magazines ] . The community seems to go in [ two directions ] : the direction of the white masculine jock or the direction of the extremely rich, BMW-driving homosexual—and I can't afford to do one and I refuse to do the other.' However, Abbas considers himself an equal-opportunity dater and says that he would talk to people of any color—if he were available.
-Seeing the Light: Part of the scholarship application process involved the finalists flying to California to meet the board of directors, which includes actress Judith Light. 'It was pretty nerve-wracking,' Abbas said with a laugh.
You better think: Abbas plans to become a philosophy professor. 'I like Plato and Socrates, but I'm more post-structuralist pop. I like to include music theory as well as race and gender theory,' he said.
-How he heard about the Point Foundation: A friend recommended it to Abbas after reading about the organization in The Advocate.
-What the scholarship means to him: 'It's definitely an opportunity, and [ the scholarship ] means that there's definitely a sign of change—and it's a change for the better,' Abbas said. By the way, Abbas is also a Colin Higgins Scholar. ( The Colin Higgins Foundation, at www.colinhiggins.org , also supports LGBT youth. )