This week, those trademark rainbow flags will fly outside Coffman Union for the Queer Student Cultural Center’s annual Spring Pride week.
To learn more about the Rainbow Health Initiative and GLBT Health Awareness Week, go to www.rainbowhealth.org.
But Spring Pride may not seem like as big a deal as it once was, compared to even a few years ago, said QSCC co-chairwoman Elysa Hays.
Hays, who has been involved with the QSCC for nearly all of her four years at the University, said Spring Pride week is “definitely gaining popularity.”
Mike Grewe, a University graduate who works in the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Office, said he’s seen the shock value of Spring Pride week dwindle over the years.
“I once did a research project on previous Daily articles when Spring Pride first started and if you read the quotes, it seemed to have much more shock value back then,” Grewe said. “Now, it would be a surprise if there wasn’t a Spring Pride, or if it didn’t exist.”
While Spring Pride is becoming more accepted, Grewe said there’s still work to be done.
“There are still a lot of people on campus who face difficulties of being out,” Grewe said. “There are still people on campus who would rather not see the celebration at all.”
Some of the shock value probably still exists for some first-year students, Cortez Riley, the special events coordinator for the QSCC, said.
“I went to high school in rural America, and when I came here and saw the flags and everyone out, there was a wow factor,” the sophomore said. “I’m sure some freshmen are like ‘Oh my goodness, what is this?’ Some probably haven’t seen anything like this.”
With more openness comes changes in programming, Hays said, and that’s what makes this year different.
This year’s theme of Spring Pride, “Putting the Pieces Together,” is all about bringing up issues about diversity within the GLBT community.
“This year, we’re bringing together people to talk about the tough questions,” Hays said. “Issues of race and diversity weren’t being talked about when I was a freshman, and now we’re pushing for them.”
Hays said people are more open to talking about issues in addition to sexual orientation, which helps members of the GLBT community explain who they are, rather than what they are.
“Being out isn’t as radical now,” Hays said. “It lets us tackle completely different questions.”
Grewe said even in the past couple years, the celebration has become more than just for the GLBT community.
“It’s become more about the allies and a celebration for them and the diversity of the entire community,” he said. “Rather than just GLBT specific.”
It’s important for students to step out of their “personal bubble” and have new experiences, he added.
“Spring Pride gives people the opportunity to explore other communities and meet others in a community they haven’t been a part of yet,” Grewe said.
Spring Pride is a chance for the GLBT community to combat the “homophobic comments you hear from time to time,” Riley said.
“We’re here, proud of our sexuality, and there’s no reason to hide it,” he said. “We are proud of who we are. This is a chance to yell out.”