Leaders of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative said they plan to emphasize the diversity among Yale’s LGBTQ students in “Pride @ Yale 2012,” an annual month-long event series that officially launched Thursday night with the “Love Makes a Family” art exhibit.
The exhibit — which seeks to challenge misconceptions about LGBTQ families and relationships — highlights Pride 2012’s goal of promoting “inclusivity” and celebrating multiculturalism, said Hilary O’Connell ’14, president of the LGBTQ Co-op and chair of the Pride Committee, a branch of the Co-op tasked with planning Pride 2012. She added that organizers made extra efforts to reach out to other student groups to co-sponsor activities since many LGBTQ students across the University participate in other cultural, religious and extracurricular organizations.
“I think Pride  is in a lot of ways a space where all of these communities and the marginalized members of these communities can come together and have a place to speak,” O’Connell said. “We don’t want to speak over anyone and their issues, so if we are going to have a particular talk about some identities and there’s a cultural house for those identities, we don’t want to speak over anyone’s voice who is here.”
O’Connell said the message of “community” and “diversity” is especially important as LGBTQ issues gain more attention nationally. Though O’Connell said she thinks there is a “false idea of mutual exclusivity between faith and sexuality” among national LGBTQ discourse, she said she has noticed a higher level of “openness” within Yale’s community.
Karmen Cheung ’13, head coordinator for the Asian American Cultural Center, said she has noticed the Co-op’s increased focus on collaboration this year, citing an “Out and Asian” panel discussion about LGBTQ issues in the Asian-American community as an example. Cheung added that there are not many “openly out” Asian-Americans and that she hopes working with the Co-op will help Asian-American LGBTQ students feel comfortable with their sexuality.
O’Connell, who was an associate director for Sex Week 2012, a biennial event that took place last month after administrators approved Sex Week organizers’ proposal, said students have been less critical of Pride 2012 events than they were to Sex Week efforts since she thinks “open homophobia on this campus is wildly not tolerated.”
“I think in general, Yale’s community is very supportive of different kinds of sexualities,” said Joanna Zheng ’14, who attended Thursday’s art exhibit. “Discrimination is not over on campus but Pride Month is a good way to recognize that these problems still exist.”
“Love Makes a Family” features photographs of LGBTQ families and will be held at the Trumbull College art gallery through April 4. The exhibit is based in Massachusetts and began touring in 1996, according to LGBTQ Co-op board member Amalia Skilton ’13.
Pride 2012 received funding from the Office of LGBTQ Resources, the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee and student group co-sponsors, O’Connell said. She added that the event has a budget of less than $5,000 to cover the 31 events Pride 2012 plans to host this year.
Pride @ Yale was founded 35 years ago as “Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days.”