Celebrating the LGBTQ+ Community during Pride Month: Activities and Events for Campuses
Pride Month is fast approaching, and it is an optimal time for higher education professionals to start thinking about ways to celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and create inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ students on all college campuses. The month of June is an opportunity to honor the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and continue the progress of creating safe and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies.
Here are some activities and events that colleges can organize to celebrate this community during Pride Month.
1. Host a Pride Parade. One of the most traditional and longstanding ways to celebrate Pride Month is to host a fun, vibrant, and community-based parade. This event can take place on campus or in the surrounding community and can be a powerful way for LGBTQ+ students and campus allies (including higher education staff, faculty, and students) to come together and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Penn State has units at campuses across the Commonwealth that hold events in honor of Campus Pride Month. The LGBTQA Student Resource Center puts on a Pride Parade in which students join to make supportive signs, dress in Pride attire, and meet at a location to start the parade. This event can be a strong way to bring a campus community together for a good cause.
2. Bring in LGBTQ+ Speakers. Another way to celebrate Pride Month is to bring in LGBTQ+ speakers to give talks on campus or participate in a virtual webinar. These speakers can provide insight and inspiration to LGBTQ+ students and help educate the wider campus community about LGBTQ+ issues. Topics can range from learning about the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement to important challenges faced by the community today. Another important topic speakers can touch on is how allies can support students in this community and provide awareness for LGBTQ+ issues. Inviting speakers to campus can help to create a more inclusive and understanding campus culture for all students, faculty, and staff. Gotham Artists put together a list of college pride speakers that could be a great starting point in the search for your school's next speaker.
3. Screen LGBTQ+ Films. Hosting film screenings of LGBTQ+-themed movies, documentaries, and TV shows is a great way to celebrate and educate the campus community about an array of LGBTQ+ issues. Screenings can take place in campus theaters, lecture halls, or outdoor spaces and can help to create a more inclusive and accepting campus culture. Having an outdoor evening event where students can gather with food and drinks could be a fun summer activity. For recommendations on what to watch, Time.com gathered a list of important documentaries about LGBTQ+ history. You can also ask students for their favorite movies that have impacted their own experience! Having events like this once a week during Pride Month, are relatively inexpensive and an easy way to help people gather and learn about LGBTQ+ topics.
4. Offer LGBTQ+ Ally and Safe Space Training. Offering LGBTQ+ ally training workshops to students, staff, and faculty is another way to create a more inclusive and supportive campus environment for LGBTQ+ students and their allies. These workshops teach participants about LGBTQ+ issues and how to be an effective ally. Ally training can help to create a more supportive campus culture and ensure that LGBTQ+ students feel supported and included on campus. Offering Safe Space training to students, staff, and faculty, which teaches participants about LGBTQ+ issues and how to create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals on campus, is another helpful tool for supporting this community.
5. Host Art Exhibitions. Hosting art exhibitions can showcase a range of mediums, from painting and photography to sculpture and performance art, and can help to highlight the creativity and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. The ??Lehman College Art Gallery hosted an exhibit called "Queer Love," which features work from dozens of queer artists and provides a space for young college students to experience beautiful and affirming art pieces from members of their own community. This type of event involves more planning and resources but provides an artistic outlet that can be a creative community event on campus.
6. Host a Drag Show. There have been more events like drag shows popping up at campuses across the country. These shows are a popular form of entertainment and can be a fun way to celebrate Pride Month on college campuses. Delaware County Community College hosted a drag show recently for its campus community members, which had local drag performers and offered both an in-person and virtual option to attend. The event was a fun way to increase the presence of the LGBTQ+ community on campus, but it also served as a lesson on "experiences with performance, identity, the importance of consent, and the fears/anxieties/safety concerns surrounding performance in both LGBTQ and presumed straight/CIS-identified spaces." Campuses can organize drag shows featuring local drag queens and kings, providing an opportunity to showcase the diversity within the community and celebrate gender identity and expression.
No matter which event you decide to host on your college campus, please keep safety measures in mind, make sure your event is creating a safe and inclusive environment for all, and have a strong representation of LGBTQ+ individuals in the planning and execution of the event. Lastly, it is important to note that though June is a dedicated month to honor, learn, and celebrate individuals from this community, there should always be an acknowledgment and awareness that these students are part of a bustling campus community year-round and deserve recognition and respect at all times, not just in June.