Pride Month widens focus

For organizers of Yale’s Pride Month, this April is a unique opportunity to celebrate the full spectrum of identities present in the LGBTQ community.

Over 30 events are planned for this year’s Pride Month, which began in late March and continues until April 23, including performances, discussions, parties and visits from speakers. More than 30 years after Yale hosted its first April Gay Rights Week, which evolved into Pride Month over the years, student organizers on the Pride Committee said their goal is to reach out to students not formally involved in Yale’s LGBTQ organizations.

“The spirit of Pride Month is diversity,” Pride Committee member Ryan Mendias ’13 said. “There are so many ways to be queer. This identity is flexible. It is a part of you, but doesn’t have to be the defining feature.”

Several Pride Month events — including a lecture on disability and sexuality in Japan and a discussion about activism with Native American poet Chrystos, co-sponsored by the Native American Cultural Center — address the intersection of LGBTQ issues and ethnic identities, Mendias added.

Individual organizations or groups of students hoping to plan Pride Month events submitted their ideas to the Pride Committee beginning in mid-February, Mendias and fellow Pride Committee member Mariana Arjona-Soberon ’13 said. One member of the Pride Committee functions as a point person for each event, and oversees the execution of the activities.

Arjona-Soberon said that brainstorming sessions at the LGBTQ Co-op — the umbrella group for all LGBTQ groups on campus — tended to focus on creating events that collaborated with other communities at Yale.

“I think we would like to branch out into more communties on campus,” she said. “We’re diverse, but we can always be more diverse [in the groups with which we affiliate].”

An open discussion March 29 on the implications of participating in LGBTQ community groups, called “Am I Gay Enough?”, was targeted towards those who aren’t heavily involved in such groups, said Arjona-Soberon, adding that the event attracted “a lot of people who had never been to any sort of Pride [Month] event.”

Clyde Edwards ’13, the co-president of Prism, a group focused on the intersection of sexual and racial identities, said he planned the April 12 lecture “Call Girls for Crips: Disability and Sexuality and Japan” to combine his personal interest in Japanese culture with this Pride Month’s focus on unconventional conceptions of sexuality.

Edwards said much discussion of gay issues is limited to high-profile legislation and federal rules, such as the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. While such subjects are important, he said, they are not the only hardships that LGBTQ people may encounter.

“People in the LGBT community face other day-to-day discrimination issues, [such as] coming from a macho aggressive culture,” he said.

Pride Month’s precursor, Gay Rights Week, was first organized in 1977 by history professor George Chauncey ’77 GRD ’89, who was an undergraduate at the time. Five years later, that event became Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days (GLAD), which eventually expanded to include the bisexual community as well (B-GLAD). B-GLAD’s name changed to Pride Week, and then three years ago became Pride Month.

Pride Month events receive funding from a number of sources, including the Office of LGBTQ Resources, the Bruce L. Cohen Fund, the Yale College Dean’s Office, the Intercultural Affairs Council and the Women’s Center.

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