By Aimee Jewell–
Pride Week, an annual celebration of the LGBT culture around the University of Louisville campus took place Sept. 30 to Oct. 5. The first week in October was packed with festivities that encouraged students to be free to celebrate their sexuality – gay or straight. Beginning the pride week festivities, LGBT members and allies alike attended the Pride Week worship service that took place on Sunday, Oct. 30. A Pride Week Cookout happened the following Monday afternoon and was put on by common Ground, providing food, fun, and Pride t-shirts for those who attended. Here, LGBT sponsors were also invited to show support for members of the community, by setting up tables and telling students of their involvement in the LGBT society.
Later Monday night, there was a film screening and answer segment, followed by an important seminar, “Learning to Reduce, Prevent and Cope with Stress,” in which Dr. Stephanie Budge and the Counseling Psychology Trans LGBQ Lab on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday night, common Ground and PFLAG dedicated the evening to students, parents and friends who wanted to share stories and experiences about having a son, daughter or friend in the LGBT community. Listeners also provided advice for those who shared.
A “Lunch and Learn” took place on Wednesday afternoon, giving students an opportunity to learn about the role white voters have in the upcoming election, focusing mainly on immigration and how oppression can be stopped. Wednesday evening, the keynote speaker, Jose Antonio Vargas, took stage, discussing his work as a Pulitzer Prize winner, DefineAmerican.com founder, an openly gay man and an immigration reform activist. Vargas was the topic of a recent Time article, in which he stated not only his opinions on immigration laws and how they needed to be changed, but also admitted to being an illegal immigrant. Vargas shared with a smaller student audience earlier in the afternoon about his extremely successful background, but also the scary reality that he could be taken from this country one day, despite his overall achievements. Clay Berry, a senior at UofL and former president of commonGround said that this was the most exciting event of the week.
Berry, who came out a little over five years ago, went on to say that it was the best thing he’s done for himself. “Pride Week allows us to be loud and proud and not afraid to show people who we really are.”
Thursday afternoon, a luncheon featuring Mandy Carter from the National Black Justice Coalition took place in the Cultural Center, followed by the UofL LGBT Alumni Association Reception at the University Club. A film viewing and discussion on the movie, “Brother Outsider”, took place Thursday night, where students and faculty were invited to converse about the life of Bayard Rustin, an activist and March organizer for gay rights.
Rounding out the week, LGBT Services hosted a seminar discussing smart sex. “Let’s Talk About (Safe) Sex,” hosted by the LGBT Services Ambassador, Marissa Sparkman, and the Office for Health Promotions urged students to make educated choices when taking part in sexual behavior. That night, the intersection ambassadors in the Red Barn put on a Pride Dance.
“The Pride Dance was really nice because you got to see people, who are typically really shy or a little self conscious around others, let loose and know that they could have fun and not be judged for it,” stated sophomore intersection ambassador, Jacob Jones. “It’s just reassurance that I picked the right university. It gives me a sense of belonging to know the university is supportive of me”.