(From The Campus Lantern – October 30, 2014)
Last week from Monday, October 20, to Thursday, October 23, Eastern’s Pride Alliance celebrated their annual Ally Week. The purpose of the week was to celebrate and thank the allies of the LGBT+ community at Eastern. Events that were educational, fun, and emotional were held throughout the week and included Out At Eastern, a candlelit vigil, Alphabet Soup, and Flag Day.
“Out At Eastern [was] our big starting off event,” stated Pride Alliance Vice President Lindsey Emblidge. Clubs and organizations were asked to participate in the event which took place on Monday; of the participants were the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and the Pride Room. Each organization had its own table, similar to the setup of the President’s Picnic in September. Members of Pride Alliance helped to run the other tables at the event, which included a tie-dye station, a bracelet-making station, a cotton-candy and popcorn station, and a station in which passersby could dress-up in wigs and feather boas and take pictures.
Tuesday was the candlelight vigil in honor of LBGT+ victims of bullying and harassment. The event started at the Clock Tower and ended in the Pride Room. “We wanted to remember those who had to extinguish their own light, so we lit candles in remembrance of them,” said Alexis Cross, the secretary of Pride Alliance. She continued, “There is a huge amount of LBGT+ students, peers and youths who feel as though they cannot continue on, and we wanted to have an ode to them throughout this week.” In reflection of the event, people who attended stated that it was a very personal and somber experience.
In addition to the vigil, there was a visibility event in which Pride Alliance members made signs with both positive and negative statistics about the LGBT+ community. The signs were posted around the Student Center throughout Ally Week for the entire campus to see.
On Wednesday, Pride Alliance hosted Alphabet Soup, which was a bingo-style educational event. A definition of a sexual orientation or gender identity was called out to participants who then had to find the word around the room. On the bingo cards were terms related to the LBGT+ acronym and the winner of the game won a prize. “It was very educational. A lot of people left knowing more words than they did when they came in, and next year we plan on adding even more words because our acronym continues to get longer throughout the years as more sexual and gender identities are understood and brought to light in the mainstream,” Cross stated.
Flag Day was on Thursday. Starting on Monday, pictures had been taken throughout the week of people who wanted to show their support of the LGBT+ community. On Thursday, Pride Alliance had a table set up in the Student Center to reach out to more of the Eastern community to take pictures to show their support. The end result was a collage of over fifty photographs of Eastern staff and students.
“The club’s main purpose is to facilitate relations between the LBTQ+ community and the heterosexual community on campus through socials, discussions, education events, and political activism,” Cross stated. Pride Alliance is working on becoming more politically active in the upcoming semesters; they plan on starting a letter-writing petition to members of Congress and the Senate about the importance of LGBT+ rights in the United States. Since the club is so multi-faceted and diverse, especially in terms of members with different sexual orientations and gender identities, they put on many events each semester to involve each member and make sure everyone’s voice in the LGBT+ community is heard on Eastern’s campus.
Pride Alliance meets on Thursdays at 5:30 P.M. in room 221 in the Student Center.