SpectrUM hopes to touch on a wide range of subjects relevant to the LGBT community during Pride Awareness Week.
The 10-day event began with Trans Visibility Day on Thursday and will end on Sunday, coinciding with the eighth annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade. On the final day of the SpectrUM-led week, the organization will take University of Miami students and faculty to South Beach to participate in the colorful parade.
SpectrUM Senator Margo Hall stressed the importance of this week, which not only raises awareness of the LGBT community, but also encourages everyone at the University of Miami to be themselves.
“This gives us a platform to be visible and to spread our values of love and unconditional acceptance,” Hall said. “I hope that it also shows everybody at this school who is struggling to accept themselves that there is a thriving community of people like them who are waiting to welcome them with open arms.”
Other events include a discussion of the history of pride and pride marches, a photo shoot for LGBT students and allies to show support for the community and a sexual health forum to discuss issues the LGBT community faces.
The sexual health forum will touch on topics of reproductive health, the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) pill that helps lower the chance of HIV infection, as well as what services are available in Miami. Hall said she is especially looking forward to the forum.
“Queer people’s needs are often dismissed in conversations about sex because the kind of sex they have isn’t considered normal,” Hall said. “I hope this forum will be a chance to educate those in our community who have not been given the kind of information they need and deserve.”
Pride Awareness Week was kick-started on Thursday with a Trans Visibility Day that brought attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the world. SpectrUM featured a recorded performance by Rebecca Kling, a nationally-renowned trans artist and activist who was part of the inaugural “Trans 100” list in 2013. The list is organized each year by GLAAD, formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Morgan Owens, SpectrUM treasurer and Student Government treasurer-elect, said he hopes the week will allow students to embrace their identities and show LGBT students they do not have to be afraid of who they are.
“Very often, the LGBTQ+ community is told that we should hide parts of who we are, or hold back from being totally honest about ourselves,” Owens said. “We need to make time to express that we aren’t just okay with being who we are, but that we are proud.”
Owens also said that the week isn’t just for students, but also for those outside UM, including families and friends.
“We aren’t asking them to just tolerate us, but to be proud of us. Shame is often prescribed to us by those around us as the appropriate response to being who we are, and that becomes toxic when we start to believe it. Pride is how we try to fight that,” Owens said.
The week comes during a time when states such as Georgia and North Carolina are trying to pass a bill considered “anti-gay” by many people and news organizations, including CNN and The New York Times.
The legislation would allow business owners and religious groups to deny service to LGBT individuals, allowing widespread discrimination.
Hall said a focus for the week will be highlighting the perseverance and resilience of the LGBT community despite the struggles and oppressive conditions they may face.
“I think it’s important to show that no matter how hard people are fighting to take away our rights, nothing will stop us from being proud of who we are,” Hall said.
If you go:
Monday, April 4: What is Pride?, 8 p.m. in the SpectrUM Office (SC 210-K)
Tuesday, April 5: Ally photo shoot, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the U Statue
Wednesday, April 6: Sexual health forum, 6:30 p.m. at the Whitten University Center StormSurge Room
Friday, April 7: Pride Awareness Week Banquet, 7 p.m. in the Delta Lambda Phi Suite of the Panhellenic Building
Sunday, April 10: Miami Beach Pride, buses leave at 9 a.m. from Stanford Circle.
Correction, April 4, 6:26 p.m.: This article included an incorrect date and location for the Pride Awareness Week Banquet.