The month of April has been affectionately nicknamed Gaypril, due to the large number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender events traditionally held on campus during this time. Gay Pride Week, as it was originally known at its conception in the mid-’80s, has since expanded to fill an entire month. Its initial design mimicked National Gay Pride Week, which is now celebrated in June.
Gay Pride Month started in June 1969 in Greenwich Village when the patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a popular bar frequented by gays and lesbians, protested when police tried to raid the bar. People around the world commomerate this historical moment, even at UR.
The events on the UR campus originally included a speaker, a movie and a dance. Today these events have become a tradition for the UR community and now also include the Day of Silence, the Day of Solidarity, a drag show and numerous information tables.
In addition, for the first time this year, there will be a religious panel discussion on the acceptance of homosexuality in various churches in Rochester.
Gay Pride Month caters not only to the gay community on campus, but is also well attended by the general campus population. The events are structured to appeal to and educate a wide range of individuals with different backgrounds regarding knowledge of GLBT issues. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a drag show hosted by a flaming seven-foot-tall queen in hooker-boots?
Pride Network has experienced many fluctuations in support by straight allies, yet the mission has remained the same. The programs are designed to engage the population of the campus in social gatherings as a means of breaking taboos and social barriers between the queer and straight communities. Education and awareness of the GLBT community and their allies is also a primary focus.
The activities on campus draw a huge crowd each year. The drag show always sells out. The Pride Network attempts to host a diverse program in order to appeal to as many individual interests as possible. Speakers have come to the campus to cover topics including AIDS, breaking stereotypes and the difficulties of coming out and have included comedians and gay rights activists.
Having attended only one UR-sponsored drag show, I eagerly await the arrival of Gaypril. The fact that a small campus like ours is able to host such events gives me great hope for the gay community in this coming generation.
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