Penguins Celebrate Pride Day

Pin buttons with pro-LGBT slogans. Some examples read Buttons with LGBT messages rest on a table for students to take during the PRIDE Fair in Gaiser Student Center. May 17 was both International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and PRIDE Day at Clark College.

Nathan Baird and Steven Mitchell also contributed to this story.

The Clark campus was alive on Tuesday with neon-colored tulle skirts, tie-dyed clothing and LGBTQ pride flags sticking out of people’s hair, backpacks and pant pockets. PRIDE Day was underway, with events going on from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., organized by ASCC, APB and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

The morning was filled with workshops about queer terminology and self-care, followed up with a Queer Students Luncheon at noon. The second half of the day featured PRIDE Fair, a spoken word performance and a three-hour-long drag show hosted by Queer Penguins and Allies.

At the Queer Students Luncheon in Gaiser Student Center, English professor Marylynne Diggs captivated an audience of over sixty Clark students, faculty and administrators through a speech about personal experiences as a member of the LGBTQ community. Diggs finished up the hour-long talk with a push for activism and change.

“Work for justice for all, especially after you get it yourself,” Diggs said.

Although PRIDE Day celebrates and spreads awareness and acceptance of nonconforming gender-identities and sexualities, the whole excitement and buzz “can get pretty hectic” and overwhelming to the same people that this day is dedicated to, said Felis Peralta from the Diversity Center. That is why students were welcome to relax in a blue tent set up in GSC, called the “Chill Zone.” Connected to the “Chill Zone” was another blue tent, but this one had several posters plastered over the entrance stating “This space is reserved for queer, trans, people of color only.”

To create a safer campus and accessibility for all individuals Clark will convert 28 single-stall restrooms into all-gender restrooms by the end of summer, as mentioned in a campus-wide email from Bob Knight Tuesday morning.

Two multi-stall restrooms in PUB were temporarily converted for PRIDE Day. The restrooms were vandalized after the event Tuesday evening, according to Bob Williamson, vice president of Administrative Services.

The vandals left a note disagreeing with the converted bathrooms and defecated and urinated on the floor. Williamson didn’t disclose the specifics of the note but said the language used was inappropriate.

“These actions are inappropriate, inconsistent with our values as a college and will not be tolerated,” Williamson said.

The college’s Bias Based Incident Response Team issued a campus-wide email asking witnesses to come forward and report what they know to Clark College Security.

Meanwhile, Security is conducting an investigation, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Bill Belden.

In the evening, award-winning poet, writer and lyricist Denice Frohman delivered a spoken word performance to a crowd of students and teachers in Gaiser Student Center. Frohman, who was named The Women of The World Poetry Slam champion in 2013, performed a variety of pieces, discussing issues of sexuality, race and identity.

Frohman finished her performance with a rendition of “Dear Straight People,” a poem which went viral in 2013, and has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube.

Frohman also encouraged students to be open minded, and fight for equality for everyone. “If I’m just fighting for me,” Frohman said. “I’m fighting the wrong fight.”

About Ieva Bračiulytė (17 Articles)
Editor-in-chief for The Independent, Clark College´s student-run publication.

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