Last week, the student organization, LGBT Alliance hosted its first PRIDE week featuring The Homo Games, the “Fame” drag show and a ribbon awareness day.
Jody Cofer Randall, adviser for LGBT Alliance, said the group has been wanting to put together a weeklong PRIDE celebration for several years, but there have always been setbacks.
“One program a week is our usual goal,” she said. “So this was a big commitment for our students.”
Each day, the Alliance hosted a different program to bring awareness of the LGBT community to Murray State’s students.
THE FULL SPECTRUM
Cofer Randall said the Alliance wanted to cover the full spectrum when it came to LGBT issues, with programming ranging from viewing serious documentaries to more lighthearted programs such as the drag show.
Monday the group kicked off the week by hosting a showing of “Deep South,” a documentary about HIV/AIDS in the southern region of the U.S.
White men who identify as homosexual or bisexual the most profoundly affected population in regard to HIV and AIDS, according to data found in 2010 by the Center for Disease Control.
Members of the Alliance passed out purple ribbons to the audience during the showing to spread LGBT awareness at Murray State.
Tuesday, the group passed out ribbons from a booth in the Curris Center and members of the Alliance took pictures of people from the University holding signs in support of the LGBT community.
Cofer Randall said the Alliance took more than 100 photos and plans to set up another booth in the Curris Center in the next few weeks so more people can participate.
In The Homo Games, a play off of “The Hunger Games,” held in Woods Hall on Wednesday, students played Cards Against Humanity, Twister and Corn Hole.
Thursday night the Alliance put on the drag show, which is a big money- maker for the organization.
Michele Sumner, freshman from Jackson, Tenn., and member of the LGBT Alliance, attended each of the programs during PRIDE week.
She even put on some makeup and dressed up in some men’s clothes from Rue 21 to strut her stuff in the drag show.
“My character was Jay Byrd,” she said. “I came up with his character myself that night.”
Sumner said as fun as the drag show was, the opportunities for open discussion and acceptance that the LGBT Alliance provides for students in need is imperative to our community.
“Alliance creates an inclusive, open environment for anyone that wants to join,” Sumner said. “They helped me learn that it was OK to be me.”
Friday, Katie Bellinger, a guest speaker and friend of Cofer Randall’s from Wisconsin, spoke to students to answer the question: “What should I be doing as a good straight ally?”
Bellinger told students that they should think of “ally” as a verb, not a noun.
THE LGBT ALLIANCE
Murray State’s LGBT Alliance turns 18 years old this year.
“We’re legal now,” Cofer Randall said. “I keep telling the kids we should have a party or something.”
Sumner said she started participating in the LGBT Alliance before she started classes here.
She said she began emailing back and forth with the president of the organization during the summer before she moved because LGBT issues are important to her.
“I wanted to be a part of something that was helping people,” she said. “And I wanted a place where I could be myself.”
Now, 10 students make up the organization, but by the time Sumner graduates she says she wants to see Alliance membership and activities booming.
“I want us to be pulling off some really great programming,” she said.
Cofer Randall said the LGBT Alliance plans on making PRIDE week an annual event at Murray State.
“PRIDE week is a time to celebrate progress, discuss what needs to be done and to take inventory of where we are,” Cofer Randall said.
Sumner said it is important to have a week dedicated to LGBT pride because it brings awareness to a population on campus that otherwise goes unnoticed.
“We (members of the LGBT Alliance) are basically the ambassadors for all of the LGBT students on campus who aren’t involved with the Alliance,” Sumner said.
Cofer Randall and Sumner both insisted that students dealing with LGBT issues such as gender identity and acceptance or if they just need someone on campus to talk to, they should attend the LGBT Alliance meetings.
“We are doing more (for LGBT students) now,” she said. “But there is still more to do.”
Story by Mari-Alice Jasper, Assistant News Editor