On Monday, rain poured down, pelting the ground and blanketing the campus in a torrential wash. Most students remained indoors, and the few that didn’t trudged along feeling uncomfortably and unfortunately wet. But passing one building, with balloons of every color strewn outside its door, it was clear that UC Davis was celebrating something.
The event was Visibility Day, the kick-off event for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center’s (LGBTRC) Pride Week.
Initially intended to be out on the east quad, weather conditions forced the party indoors. With approximately 50 people in attendance, the LGBT Resource Center was filled to capacity. And by the end of the event, the Band-uh! had arrived for an impromptu 20-minute performance that boosted spirits further.
“Pride Week is an amazingly uplifting [and] reaffirming experience,” said Sarah Raidon, a senior gender studies major. Raidon, who attends Pride Week events every year, is also the Chair of the ASUCD Gender and Sexuality Commission. “It’s an important opportunity to see each other and to be reminded that we are a coherent community.”
Pride Week continued with a town hall meeting late Monday at Regan Main in the Segundo area. Participants included a mixture of undergraduates, graduate students and staff of the LGBTRC.
Those present expressed worries about certain issues slipping through the cracks. Among topics discussed were: increasing community engagement, Prop 8 and other legislation, a lack of gender neutral bathrooms and searching for resources for planning more pride events.
The Tuesday after Visibility Day consisted of Pride Week’s keynote address by Mia Mingus, a self-identified queer disabled woman of color and Co-Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now in Atlanta, Georgia. Apart from her work on reproductive justice, Mingus also engages in social advocacy regarding disability, race, gender, sexuality, transracial adoption and ending sexual violence.
The rest of the Pride Week schedule includes a three-hour “safe zone” training on Thursday and “Crafternoon,” an arts and crafts activities event, which will occur at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Both are located in the LGBTRC.
Then, on Friday, Delta Lambda Phi will host “Davis is Burning,” the 20th annual drag show hosted by the only national-level fraternity for progressive men. Located at Freeborn Hall, doors open at 7 p.m. with tickets costing $10 pre-sale or $12 at the door. One dollar discounts are available with a valid UCD ID and/or drag attire. The show starts at 8 p.m.
Apart from Pride Week, the LGBTRC also offers a Peer Educator Program (PEP).
Jerome Atputhasingam, a Community Intern at the LGBTRC and PEP coordinator, heads an ongoing series of programs, including the popular “That’s So BLEEP,” which are designed to discourage hate speech and prejudice as well as promote awareness. “That’s So BLEEP” can be requested for free by resident advisors looking for an educational experience for their dorm residents or by any campus organization that is interested.
Although Pride Week is experiencing significant changes this year, hopes remain high. It’s still vital to the queer community, according to Bob Bhatti, a senior animal biology major.
“Some people don’t [give it] a passing thought. But when they see the rainbow, they know we’re here,” Bhatti said. “It’s so they don’t forget we exist.”
KYLE SPORLEDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.