Hectic schedules aside, members of the LGBTA community take one week out of the year to come together and show their pride.
The Ohio University Student Senate’s LGBT Affairs commission, along with the Women’s Center and LGBT Center, presents its annual Pride Week on Monday, March 18.
Pride Week, which began as Visibility Week in 1992, celebrates LGBTA people and educates non-LGBTA people about discrimination, issues and terms related to the LGBTA community, according to a news release.
“Pride means having a sense of value, dignity and self-respect,” said Hannah Dunn, the LGBT Affairs commissioner for Student Senate. “For the LGBT Community, pride means affirming our identities and celebrating how far we have come as a community. It is a sign that we will not be silent.”
The week has 10 official events including a documentary screening, self-defense classes and free HIV testing. The events also include a keynote speaker, who is chosen almost a year in advance based on preferences shown by a survey distributed to the community.
The speaker this year is ally activist Zach Wahls, who will present the program “What Makes a Family?,” a title that also serves as this year’s theme. Wahls, a son of two lesbian mothers, testified before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in January 2011. Though he initially said that he felt his work was finished immediately after the speech, a video of his testimony went viral and landed him on several major television networks.
"Like any family's story, this is one of highs and lows, laughs and tribulations,” he said on his website. “No matter your thoughts on marriage equality in our country, you'll walk away with a new perspective and something to think about.”
The theme and keynote are important and especially relevant because of the trouble that LGBTA families can have when trying to adopt and raise children, said Courtney Kaylor, an intern in Student Senate and senior studying communication.
“‘What Makes a Family?’ is something that I feel is very important for members of the LGBT community and non-LGBT individuals alike to explore and discuss,” she said. “Exploring this theme throughout Pride Week will hopefully educate people and open them up to the idea that a traditional family is not the only kind of family, but any family that loves and supports each other for exactly who and what they are is just as real.”
Because Wahls is an ally, Dunn said she hopes non-LGBTA individuals see how important allies can be to the LGBTA community.
“Allies are so important to any minority group,” she said. “We want straight people to come and learn more about issues that we face in the LGBT community, see that we are people just like them, and hopefully gain a passion for our fight for equal rights. As much as we can do on our own, without allies, we cannot hope to achieve widespread change.”
What: Kick-Off and Flag-Raising
When: Noon, Monday
Where: Cutler Hall
What: What Makes A Family? Panel Discussion
When: 7.p.m. Monday
Where Bentley Hall 015
What: Screaming Queens Documentary
When: 5 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Women’s Center
What: Keynote by Zach Wahls
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Baker University Center Ballroom B
What: SafeZone Training
When: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Baker University Center 236
What: LGBT Self-Defense Class
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Women’s Center
What: Trans* and Gender Variant SafeZone
When: 4 p.m. Thursday
Where: Baker University Center 229
What: Dine and Discuss with Kim Welter of Equality Ohio
When: 12 p.m. Thursday
Where: LGBT Center
What: Free HIV Testing
When: 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Thursday
Where: Baker University Center
What: Big Gay Night
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery, 24 W. Union St.
Cost: Free for 21+; $3 for 18+