First-of-its-kind virtual UC Davis Pride Month centers on solidarity, community

First-of-its-kind virtual UC Davis Pride Month centers on solidarity, community

Photo Credits: Venoos Moshayedi / Aggie File. The LGBTQIA Resource Center at UC Davis.

LGBTQIA Resource Center celebrates theme of Nourishing Stories throughout May

For the first time, UC Davis’ annual Pride Month is being held entirely online with interactive programming sessions and virtual opportunities to connect. Events are organized to bring empowerment, visibility and knowledge to the LGBTQIA+ community, all under this year’s theme: Nourishing Stories. 

The LGBTQIA Resource Center (The Center) has been planning for months, organizing innovative events and programs held exclusively online during the month of May. Participants are taking part in online events with guest speakers, virtual movie nights, sex education seminars and virtual dance parties. 

Crystal Knight, the assistant director at The Center, reiterated the description and goals of the month’s Nourishing Stories theme.

“Through our narratives, we can collectively build and sustain a community that provides nourishment for each other’s needs and lived experiences,” Knight said.

While some events can more easily adapt to an online platform, others traditionally depend on community gathering as a vehicle to spread empowerment and solidarity. One of the month’s most popular events, Out on the Quad, encourages LGBTQIA+ individuals to take up space and physically be “out” and outside. This event is usually co-organized with the Women’s Resources and Research Center (WRRC), and this year is no exception.

Joel Gutierrez is a fourth-year gender, sexuality and women’s studies and American studies double major who works as a community coordinator at The Center. Gutierrez and others have been working to adapt in-person events to an online platform, acknowledging both the limitations and value of finding new ways to celebrate.

“Out on the Quad can’t be what it’s supposed to be this year, and it can’t even be on the Quad,” Gutierrez said. 

Despite the month’s events taking on new dimensions, Gutierrez commented on the need and value of creating events for community members to take part in.

“There’s something really different I think about going to an event and sharing an experience with people and having an intention around it,” Gutierrez said.

At the event, set to take place on May 15, community members will have the opportunity to share stories, #OutFits and other examples of self-expression while enjoying a virtual dance party with a live DJ.

“Our intentions are to create a celebration of our community that centers music, laughter, positive energy and willing dancing in your living room,” the event description states.

Instead of working to recreate past years’ events, organizers worked to adapt the functions of events and programming, acknowledging how the ongoing pandemic is likely impacting community members. 

“We have a lot of different weeklong ways to get involved,” said Baani, a fourth-year cognitive science major who also works at The Center, who asked for their last name to be withheld. “Every Monday, a new journaling prompt is being released that people can complete either for their own grounding or if they tag us, they can be entered into a weekly raffle.”

Baani clarified that the structure of the raffle will allow for more ways than just journaling to enter.

“We changed the structure of the raffles so that winners will be announced at the end of the month and each submission of a doodling prompt, journaling prompt, or low energy alternative journaling prompt will be considered an additional entry in the raffle,” Baani said via email.

Due to the challenges of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, videos, instead of live-streaming all events, are providing flexibility for those wishing to participate. Social media posts similarly allow participants to take part in events and programs at their pace. 

Pride Month is one of the first month-long programming events to shift to an entirely online format at UC Davis. Looking forward, if social-distancing measures continue, Pride Month may serve as a guideline for other campus organizations aiming to adapt in-person events to an online platform.

Written by: Ally Russell — campus@theaggie.org