The University of Michigan Marching Band had a gay – LGBTQ+, rather – ol’ time at last Saturday’s game. During the homecoming halftime show, the band paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the university’s Spectrum Center with a show composed of LGBTQ+ classics by Diana Ross, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga, Sister Sledge, Cyndi Lauper and others.
The Spectrum Center is the country’s oldest LGBTQ+ support center to be formed on a college campus. Founded by legendary Southeast Michigan activist Jim Toy and Cyndi Gair, the Center was initially called the Human Sexuality Office.
“We’ve been talking with the Spectrum Center for a couple years now about honoring their 50th anniversary,” Joe Pasquale, director of the band and a professor of conducting, told Pride Source. “It was an excellent idea, and it’s something I’m proud to have put together, and our staff did an incredible job. It all came together so well.”
UM has always had a reputation for being a progressive institution. Never before, though, has the university shown such visually bold support at a football game for its LGBTQ+ students and staff — at one point the band even marched in formation to spell out “Love Wins” across the field.
Pasquale said the show even exceeded his expectations.
“We were so proud of it and how it turned out,” he said. “I think it did exactly what we were intending it to do, which was to honor the Spectrum Center and their incredible work. It was to honor the community of which it serves. And it was to honor the ideas of education and allyhood and support that the LGBTQ community deserves.”
The band wanted to express their support, he explains.
“We purposely made a large statement of support, and I can’t emphasize enough how emphatically and unequivocally that the Michigan Marching Band supports our students,” Pasquale said. “And I just wanted them to see it in an extremely important way.”
— Michigan Marching & Athletic Bands (@umichband) September 27, 2021
— Michigan Marching & Athletic Bands (@umichband) September 25, 2021