By Emily Williams, Assistant Features Editor
April has arrived and with it comes a month-long celebration of LGBT culture, otherwise known as “Gaypril.” The office of LGBT Programming at Murray State has planned a variety of fun activities during the month of April in which students all around campus can participate, whether a member of the LBGT community or not.
Michelle Barber, interim LGBT coordinator at Murray State, said although the office of LGBT has celebrated Pride Week in the past, this is their first year celebrating Gaypril.
“The reason we didn’t do Pride Week this year is because it’s traditionally in late February,” Barber said. “Since I started in this job in the middle of January, this was in reaction to not having a lot of time to plan the traditional Pride Week but still wanting to celebrate pride in some way.”
According to the Library of Congress website, LBGT Pride Month is traditionally celebrated in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, which prompted the gay liberation movement in the U.S. But Barber said since students are not on campus in the month of June, they wanted a program that coincided with the school year.
She said the idea for Gaypril came from one of their students, Kelsey Crawford, senior from Anna, Illinois. Crawford transferred from Northern Illinois University and said the idea of celebrating Gaypril came from her time there and how they had a month to celebrate LGBT culture.
Crawford said she thinks a month-long celebration is important because it gives more people the opportunity to learn about LGBT culture who may have never had that opportunity before.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to celebrate who we are and to do that visibly on campus,” Crawford said. “It also creates a diversity aspect for Murray State. We’re just having opportunities for anyone who identifies however they want to identify, to have a place to be and feel safe and celebrate their individuality.”
Crawford said she is looking forward to the LGBT one-on-one as well as the relationship panel. She said it is an event that will educate people on the basics if they have questions.
“I’m also excited about the relationship panel,” Crawford said. “Me and my partner are participating in that, and people can ask questions of the panelists about relationships. We will be covering any struggles you have and how to be confident in an LGBT relationship.”
Crawford said she and her partner have been together for five years now and said she believes struggles allow couples to better their relationship, especially in the LGBT community.
Barber said they will have almost daily events throughout the month of April, such as LGBT-friendly church services on the weekends, an event called Speed Dating for Friends, LGBT-friendly yoga classes, meet-ups and an LGBT career services discussion, among others.
“It’s really important to celebrate pride, especially if you are a member of a minority,” Barber said. “If you are a member of a minority community, you can sometimes feel like you are not visible out there in the world. And so, pride in your gender or sexual orientation is really important for people’s self-esteem”
Barber said it is important to celebrate the LGBT culture as well as learn about the history and represent the community well.
A link to the full calendar of events for Gaypril is located on Murray State’s LGBT webpage.