Thursday, April 25, 2013

Poor turnout marks PLU's Pride Week

By Stephanie Beckman, News Writer

Every Pride event that celebrates the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) community, no matter the size, always has the same goals: visibility, fun and awareness.
From the Seattle Pride events hosted by Seattle Out and Proud — whose mission, according to their website, is to "create unity, honor diversity, and achieve equal human rights throughout our region and the world" — to Pacific Lutheran University’s Queer Ally Student Union (QASU), the goals are the same.

Sophomore Nellie Moran, co-commissioner of QASU, said, "that’s what our movement and our kind of goal is. To bring awareness to that and help people understand that that’s something that needs to happen."
This year’s Pride events began on April 15 at PLU with ShOUT!, an event where LGBTQ students and allies could share their coming out stories.
The event was in an intimate setting in the Cave where all of the chairs were in a circle and anyone could share their story at any time. The stories trickled by at first, but eventually everyone was sharing at one point or another.
"I always really like it because you get to hear people’s stories," senior Rachel Miller, QASU’s secretary, said. "They don’t always get a chance to share, and you hear some interesting perspectives."
Not all of the events were strictly for advocacy. The tie-dye event the following day, which brought together students on Foss Field to be creative and add some color to their white clothes, promoted community building, Moran said. The fun continued on April 18 with the first ever Pride parade held at PLU.
This parade did not resemble a normal parade, because it took the form of tabling in the Anderson University Center (AUC). QASU covered their table in the AUC with pride flags, Skittles and Starbursts. At one end sat some bright body paint that soon covered the faces, hands and arms of anyone who wanted it.
Most of the people who stopped by the table only said "hello," but some also wrote what they were proud of on a sheet of purple butcher paper.
Moran said QASU decided to wait on performing a more traditional parade due to limited volunteer availability. "This year we’re just going to kind of be crazy in the UC [AUC] and not actually parade around," she said.
The week ended with the national Day of Silence and Night of Noise. Day of Silence asks participants to remain silent in a symbolic representation of the silencing that many in the LGBTQ community endure.
This year, QASU kept Day of Silence as more of a personal commitment and didn’t have the usual volunteers in Red Square or outside the AUC to encourage student participation, as there were not enough volunteers to do so.
Night of Noise is the ending celebration that symbolizes finding one’s voice. Despite the limited attendance, participants played games such as musical chairs, ninja tag and Twister in the Chris Knutzen Hall.
Junior Lucas Kulhanek, co-commissioner of QASU, said it was his favorite event. "I really enjoyed Night of Noise tonight, because we had a lot of engaging activities with other students and students who had not met before," Kulhanek said.
The second annual Queer Prom will be the last public event that QASU will have before the end of the academic year. PLU will host the prom, ensuring an LGBTQ safe and welcoming environment, for students aged 14-24 from the Oasis Youth Center and The Rainbow Center of Tacoma on May 18.