Dorothy from The Wiz said “there’s no place like home.” Be that as it may, it is no secret the most lit homecoming celebrations are solemnized on Black college campuses.
Grambling’s scenery projects entertainment: Southern barbecue brewing in the air, the beauty of fall leaves and there wouldn’t be a real tailgate if you don’t hear Frankie Beverly and Maze “Before I Let You Go.” Sure, our G-Men draw in large crowds, but they’re not alone! The best entertainment comes from the World-Famed Marching Band and The Orchesis.
Adjacent to the Orchesis Dance Company is the Tigerettes. Their purpose is to spread love, unity and high spirit to all Tigers who love “dear ole Grambling.
Notable Tigerette, Donovan Keith Shaw always had a passion for dancing.
“If you want to release your anger, get up and dance,” Shaw said. “ That’s why I joined the Tigerettes.”
Dancing can change lives with just the right mix of music and energy. Born and raised in Winnsboro, La. he had a normal childhood.
“My family and friends call me Keith and I come from a loving, regular family,” Shaw said. “My siblings and I were well dressed and both of my parents worked.”
Although his upbringing seemed nice, Shaw faced many challenges because of his sexual orientation.
Shaw said not only did he face the normal physical and emotional stresses, but he was also subjected to a hostile environment. Attending Franklin Parish High was difficult for Shaw but it’s where he had his aha moment.
“I went to church every Sunday; I played the cymbals in the band, and made great grades,” Shaw said. “I was like any other teenager but there was only one problem: I was GAY!”
He dealt with stares, teasing and rejection.
“It was one thing to be a black man in the Magnolia state but gay, that’s a no-no,” Shaw said.
He mentioned being blackballed from trying out football because of his sexual orientation. When that moment happened, he was able to get a glimpse of what he wanted out of life.
“I was hurt because my own people treated me unjust, but my pride would not allow me to cut or kill myself,” Shaw said. “Instead, I would go home to watch Beyoncé and Chris Brown videos and dance. Anybody can dance with their feet but dancing with the heart is another. I danced with love.”
Things were looking brighter for Shaw when he got accepted to Grambling. He joined many clubs including the Orchesis Dance Company but switched over to the Tigerettes making him the first Male Tigerette.
“I love Grambling!” Shaw said. “It is a place where everybody is somebody. I am very grateful for my friends that I made here. Grambling is a caring environment and there’s a sense of family here.”
Majoring in education, Keith plans to be a social and community service manager. Within a few years, he plans to own and coordinate a recreational center for unprivileged youth who may not have the resources to afford ballet, cooking or football lessons.
“Part of humanity is about helping the youth,” Shaw said. “It is our responsibility as a Black community to help others in achieving their dreams.”