By Elizabeth Coss and Christopher Gillett
Campus Pride Month is dedicated to recognizing the importance of accepting the LGBTQ community across U.S. universities.
Youngstown State University honored the month through a variety of events curated by YSUnity, Student Experience and other participating divisions.
Rayvin Gorrell, the president of YSUnity and a junior anthropology major, said it’s important YSU takes part in recognizing the month.
“Pride is very, very important and I think it’s extraordinary that the campus is willing to participate,” Gorrell said. “I am sad to hear and have heard in the past that it has not been celebrated on campus, so I’m very proud to be able to hold these events and make people feel welcome.”
Events ranged from painting tradition rock, to a ‘Pride Ride’ cycling event in the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center. On April 12, a panel met in Kilcawley Center’s Hub to discuss LGBTQ issues in both personal and political ways.
Timothy Francisco, an English professor and the director of YSU’s Center for Working Class Studies, said recent anti-drag and anti-LGBTQ bills distract from real issues.
“None of these [bills] are actually going to improve the lives of constituents,” Francisco said. “It’s political performance. It’s masking actually doing the hard work of legislation, and making people’s lives better. That’s what frustrates me about all of this.”
Lance Nave, the associate director of Housing and Residence Life, said gendered clothing cannot be defined or boxed into gender roles.
“What is quote-unquote male or female clothing? Is it not all just a piece of cloth that is designed in a different way and different shape?” Nave said. “The notion that a T-shirt belongs to a certain gender or a pair of pants belongs to another — It’s ridiculous. It’s close minded. It’s sad.”
A 1920s-themed event called the Gayla will be held in The Cove on April 21 and is free and open to everyone.
Gorrell said the Gayla will act not only as a second-chance prom, but as an opportunity for members of the LGBTQ community to feel comfortable being themselves.
“It’s mainly aimed at the [LGBTQ] community because maybe people didn’t feel welcomed to bring their prom date when they were in school,” Gorrell said. “It’s not just students — faculty and staff are welcome, especially if they weren’t out of the closet at the time. They’re welcome to bring their current partners. So, it’s exciting and means a lot because you have the chance to be yourself and be proud.”
Next week, April 25, students will also have the chance to tie-dye clothing articles as the final event for Campus Pride Month.
Joy Polkabla Byers, the associate vice president of Student Affairs, said the key takeaway is education.
“We looked at things that would be educational and provide social opportunities for students,” Byers said. “We’re all about helping students belong on campus, so it was really important that it had a little bit of fun and education in the activities.”
Byers also said offering activities for Campus Pride Month helps push for inclusivity at the university.
For more information about upcoming events, visit YSU’s website and search for the events calendar.