LGBTQ Resource Fair kicks off Coming Out Week
Katrina Permanson, a freshman studying gender and women’s studies, paints senior Lauren Ramsey’s hand for the kick off of Coming Out Week on Monday. Permanson, an intern with the Pride Alliance, is one of the many volunteers helping at the resource fair.
Music blasted on the UA Mall Monday as organizations and community members gathered to celebrate Coming Out Week as part of LGBT History Month.
Delta Lambda Phi, the Office of LGBTQ Affairs and Campus Health Service were only a few of the many organizations and people who gathered for the UA’s LGBTQ Resource Fair, which provides information about on and off-campus resources for students in the LGBTQ community. The fair was the first event for Coming Out Week, a week of celebration and encouragement for the LGBTQ community.
Katie Kilby, co-director of Pride Alliance, said their goal for the event was to make a statement, to make a physical impact and for people to learn and to engage the material.
“We recognize that a lot of this is foreign to people, especially a lot of these labels, words and different things, and so it’s not just about the resources of our community groups, but it’s also about the education of materials,” Kirby said. “I think the people are engaging in it so far but also just having fun.”
Resources at the fair were stationed to help not only LGBTQ community members but also the UA community, different stations offered engaging information about how to provide support for the LGBTQ community and showcasing all of the organizations that proudly support LGBTQ students.
“People learn more about it, because there’s a lot of stuff I don’t even know, and I’m gay,” said prospective UA student Tony Hall, 18. “I just feel it’s more informational for everyone to get to know everything and try and be as open as possible.”
The variety of booths at the event were meant to address specific LGBTQ needs, ranging from the religious booths, for students who were seeking a more faith-based experience, to the Delta Lambda Phi booth, which welcomes both gay and straight male students who are interested in brotherhood and community.
Straight allies and LGBTQ students were encouraged to learn about gender awareness and sexual orientation, and to help create diversity and inclusiveness.
“I just hope it encourages them to learn more, especially for people who do feel unfamiliar with the LGBT community,” Kilby said. “Ultimately, our goal in the Pride Alliance [is] to create a safe and inclusive place on campus for our LGBT Wildcats, so if we can get our straight allies, a huge portion of our community here, to be a part of that in a variety of ways, we’ll be better off.”
Passers-by were encouraged to stop and spray-paint T-shirts with words and phrases like “romantic,” “pride,” “gay” and “ally of pride.” Attendees were also encouraged to leave their painted handprint on a “Define Yourself” poster.
“I think it’s good that we have these opportunities for our students because it allows people to be open,” said Kylee Heflin, a psychology freshman.
Interactive attractions included a rainbow backdrop painted on a wooden board where students could take pictures, and a gender identification area where anyone could mark their identification, as well as learn about various other types of gender identification.
Students could also walk under a rainbow balloon arch, as a symbol of coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community or an LGBTQ ally.
The UA LGBTQ community will host a week of Coming Out events, with the last one taking place on Sunday. Students and the Tucson community are encouraged to participate in Coming Out Week.
“The goal of Coming Out Week is really to make a visible statement, to break that silence, to say, ‘We’re here. We’re out,’” Kilby said. “Coming Out Week is just about celebrating who we are and bringing people together.”
- Follow Micah Montiel @MicahMontiel