Pride week came early to the Southern Oregon University campus which celebrated LGBTQ community last week starting with their trans ally training on Tuesday. Though June is customarily recognized as Pride Month, students at the Queer Resource center designated this past week as a time to promote awareness and inclusivity on campus.
“Pride week is a time where we get to have fun, you get to be authentically you,” said Grace Prechtel a staff member at the Queer Resource Center. “The importance of pride week, is spreading awareness of the fact that the queer community exists. We’re not just some resource center in the basement that nobody looks at,” said Tenaya Raives also a staff member at the QRC.
So far the events hosted by the resource center has ushered an exceptional student turnout according to both staff members. “Our trans ally training had about 35 people, which is great” said Raives. “And not all of them were people who just wanted to contribute knowledge. There’s people who just really wanted to learn more about how to be a trans ally.”
Other events included Sex in the Dark, a facilitated discussion about sex, sexuality, consent, and body positivity, as well as a discussion about navigating family relationships in the Queer community. The week concluded with the Erotic Ball on Friday in which students were encouraged to wear almost anything they wanted. Raives emphasized the importance of body positivity at the event as well as in the community stating “It’s about whatever makes you feel sexy rather than what other people perceive as sexy. We’re promoting and being prideful about ourselves.” Events will be carried on to this week with Speaker Kumu Hina on Tuesday the 17th, educating audiences on the importance of transgender identity and finding a place in the middle, or their mahu.
In 2015 SOU was ranked among the top 25 campuses in the US that provide safe spaces to LGBTQ students according to Campus Pride, a leading non-profit organization for queer student groups on college campuses. This makes it the smallest public university to be ranked on this list which included schools such as University of Oregon and University of Washington. Members of the QRC hope to continue advocating awareness and positivity towards LGBTQ students as well as others in the community. “You can always be working to better the queer community,” said Prechtel.