Friday, April 12, 2013

Conversation should not end with Pride Week

By Ruthie Kovanen, Columnist
        
As with Women’s History Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Pride Week offers a portion of time to focus on a set of issues.
   
Pride Week is a time to embrace and celebrate all people within the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community and to be proud of the progress people have made in terms of LGBTQ rights.
   

Pride Week also allows time to reflect on unfinished work. Despite its importance, a mere week devoted to the LGBTQ community is not nearly enough.
   
Oftentimes, as Pride Week comes to an end, so too does motivation for advocacy and action. Pride, advocacy and action, however, mustn’t be set aside with the passing of one week.        

There are many ways to keep the spirit of Pride Week alive throughout the rest of the year.
   
Whether you identify as a part of the LGBTQ community or as an ally, you play a role in continuing the conversation. Below are some suggestions for making every week Pride Week.
   
Stay informed and use your power to vote. As we have seen in the state of Washington with the passing of Referendum 74, when people get together and make their voices heard, radical change can occur.
   
Refuse to become lulled into complacency and don’t fail to see the amount of progress that still can be achieved. Keep up to date with current events regarding the LGBTQ community.
   
Challenge hurtful and hateful language. Our culture is saturated with anti-gay rhetoric. Many people say, “that’s so gay” when they mean to say “that’s so frustrating, annoying, etc.” Saying “that’s so gay” connotes being gay as negative and shameful, and marginalizes the LGBTQ community.
   
Rather than using this sort of uninformed and hurtful language, be active and aware of your word choice. Offer alternatives when others use inattentive and offensive speech.
   
Get involved with QASU (Queer Ally Student Union) and the Diversity Center (DCenter). On-campus opportunities to learn, advocate and stay connected abound.
   
Throughout the year QASU and the DCenter sponsor a number of events across campus. Show your pride and support by attending these events.
   
Go to PrideFest in Seattle. This year PrideFest will be held on June 30 at the Seattle Center. The 2013 theme is, “Equality: Passed, Present and Future.” The focus will be on celebrating progress made in terms of marriage equality in Washington State, as well as on acknowledging remaining challenges and opportunities for further progress.
   
PrideFest in Seattle is the largest free LGBTQ pride event in the United States, and it is a great way to show your pride as an LGBTQ-identifying individual or to show your support as an ally.
   
Enjoy the events and activities within Pride Week, but remain cognizant of the fact that pride and advocacy do not end here. Stay connected, stay informed and use the energy of Pride Week to fuel future advocacy and action.

    Ruthie Kovanen hails from the great state of Michigan, is a sophomore at Pacific Lutheran University and is studying anthropology, Hispanic studies and women’s and gender studies. Aside from reading and writing about feminism, Ruthie enjoys chatting over a cup of coffee, baking bread and spending time outdoors.