SpectrUM’s Ally Series discusses LGBT community’s progress, issues

A student poses on the "U" Statue for Pride Week's Ally Photoshoot. Evelyn Choi // Staff Photographer
A student poses on the "U" Statue for Pride Week's Ally Photoshoot. Evelyn Choi // Staff Photographer
A student poses on the “U” Statue for Pride Week’s Ally Photoshoot. Evelyn Choi // Staff Photographer

Students gathered in a small room in the Shalala Student Center Monday night to share what pride within the LGBT community means to them and to explore the history and different connotations that come with the word “pride.” As part of SpectrUM’s Ally Series, the discussion was focused on the topic of pride, celebrating the organization’s Pride Awareness Week (PAW). The Ally Series is a string of discussions about topics related to the LGBT community that is hosted by SpectrUM every Monday night at 8 p.m. The series is open to anyone who is willing to participate.

PAW began last Thursday with Trans Visibility Day and will conclude with the annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade on Sunday.

Throughout the night, students spoke about different pride-oriented accomplishments and problems within the community. One problem discussed was the sexualization of the Miami Beach Gay Pride celebration. Students discussed the ways in which sexual orientation is thought of synonymously with sexual content. They referred to this specific issue as “controversial.” The event was meant to be a time for students to have a place to learn and discover different LGBT topics, according to former SpectrUM President Jeremy Penn.

“It’s important for students to have a space without being afraid of not having all the answers,” Penn, a junior, said.

Many students at the event described their pride as a byproduct of advocacy and awareness, with some saying it came about as being seen as second-class citizens because of their sexual orientation. Discussion moderator and freshman, Miles DeMint, said he hoped people would understand that celebrations like PAW serve as reminders that the community has come a long way but still has “a long way to go.”

“The UM community should understand what the LGBTQ+ community has accomplished so far,” DeMint said. “It’s why we celebrate, but there’s still much to do.”

PAW continued with an LGBT sexual-health forum Wednesday night, and a banquet will follow on Friday. Each event was organized with the intent of students finding pride in who they are, according to Penn.

“I want students to have a sense of pride and self-love in who they are and what their identities are,” Penn said.