• 3d illustration. Graduation cap and LGBT flag. Image with clipping path

OU Kicks Off First-Ever Pride Month Celebration

By |2018-03-22T09:30:24-04:00March 21st, 2018|Michigan, News|

Campus LGBT Resource Centers to Host Events for Students

Oakland University commemorated its first ever Pride Month with an official kickoff event featuring music, food, and LGBTQ art on March 12.
Hosted by OU’s Gender and Sexuality Center, the official Pride Month kickoff event invited the campus community to a casual lunch featuring promotions for upcoming events. Attendees were also treated to live music as well as a “Trans Life + Liberation” art exhibit created solely by trans and nonbinary artists.
OU has celebrated the LGBTQ community in years past with a briefer Pride Week. Grace Wojcik, coordinator of the GSC, says the new schedule allows for more participation and exposure.
“We’ve done a few Pride Weeks and they went really well, but we noticed it was a really stressful time of year to host a weeklong event that’s really cramped with programming,” Wojcik told BTL. “We wanted to expand the opportunity for campus partners to propose events and offer their own support to the larger event.”
OU’S GSC and Gay-Straight Alliance were exclusively responsible for organizing events in previous Pride Weeks. The 2018 Pride Month marks the first time other groups on campus will contribute to the celebration.
“We’ve opened it up and accepted proposals from all student organizations, all academic departments, and even a variety of other campus departments,” Wojcik said. “They could propose an event and we’d add it to the calendar – they’re in charge of execution and logistics.”
OU’s expanded Pride celebration, as well as its new campus-wide support system, reflects the university’s recent ranking as the most LGBTQ-friendly campus in Michigan. The 2018 Pride Month is scheduled to feature 12 events hosted by eight different campus organizations.
The 15th Annual Drag Show is expected to be one of the month’s biggest events. The show will feature student auditions as well as performances by four professional drag queens – Sabin, Emma Sapphire, Hershae Chocolatae, and Moltyn Decadence.
Other notable Pride Month events include a comedy show from Jen Kober, the Pride ‘Zine Making Party, a Pride Prom, a poetry slam, as well as the 2018 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference.
A brand new element of this year’s celebration is the Pride Month Syllabus, a comprehensive digital resource guide that provides links to LGBTQ art, websites, films, and all of the above. At 12 pages long, the guide currently includes links to the documentary Paris is Burning, a “queer girls guide to self-care,” and an LGBTQIA glossary of terms and definitions, among many other things.
“It’s a bunch of resources for students, faculty and staff to learn about the LGBTQ community,” Brittany Hall, a graduate intern with the GSC, said. “It’s a work in progress, so anyone can go on the link to edit and add resources they feel would be helpful to the community.”
Wojcik said she’s most excited about the 6th Annual Lavender Graduation Celebration, which recognizes LGBTQ graduates and their allies.
“It’s a really nice way to end the year and recognize students who made an impact here, and achieved the ultimate goal on a college campus which is graduation,” Wojcik said. “It’s nice to pay homage to all the work they’ve done here.”
Pride Month Celebrations at Other Universities
Organizers at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are also scheduling several events in honor of Pride Month and International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31.
On March 24, UM’s Spectrum Center will hold a “Transgender Day of Visibility Speak Out” event to highlight and honor stories of the transgender community. Those interested in sharing their experience in-person or anonymously are encouraged to fill out an online submission form.
The Spectrum Center has a similar event focusing on the experiences of trans women/trans feminine people in the community scheduled for March 26.
“We are excited about hosting these two events that intentionally center trans and non-binary voices in our community,” said Raivynn Smith, UM student and event organizer. “We know that visibility is complex, that there is no one right way to visible and that visibility has its drawbacks; as a result we have worked to provide safe, inclusive spaces for folx in the trans/non-binary community to share their own stories and narratives.”
For additional informational, head over to the Facebook page “Storytelling: Centering the Narratives of Trans Women/Femme Folx.”
MSU’s LGBT Resource Center will commemorate Pride Month with a “Pride Prom” on April 6. The event is described as “an inclusive and fun space to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community,” and will feature a theme that’s yet to be determined.
“Pride Prom is a significant event to the MSU LGBTQ+ community every year,” said Frankie Resto, MSU student and staff member at the resource center. “It’s a chance for students to express themselves in ways they may not usually have the opportunity to. It’s not only a night full of dancing and joyfulness, but a night to be your true self.”
Outside of Pride Month, both MSU and UM will hold their annual Lavender Graduation ceremonies on April 15 and 26, respectively. Like OU’s event, the ceremonies will celebrate the academic accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ graduates. The Human Rights Campaign estimates there are more than 160 universities nationwide that host annual Lavender Graduations.

To find more LGBTQ-focused events happening at universities across Michigan, head over to the following pages:
Michigan State University LGBT Resource Center
University of Michigan Spectrum Center
Eastern Michigan LGBT Resource Center
JIGSAW at Wayne State University
Oakland University Gender and Sexuality Center

About the Author:

Drew Howard graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2017 with a B.S. in multimedia journalism. His work has been featured in Gazette Media, Forbes, LearnVest and NPR station WDET 101.9.