Pride is something everyone deserves, but when you are different that can be hard to attain. For the gay community, pride week is a way to celebrate yourself and who you are. Allies, Gay, BiSexual, Lesbian, Trans* on Real Youth Education, (A GBLT on RYE) had their second Pride Week of the year from March 12 through the 17.. This is a student group on the Husson/NESCom campus. The group has over 20 members and seeks to be a support group, a place to discuss- and take action on GBLT issues on campus and throughout the state of Maine. Members of the group are currently attempting to lobby for gender neutral housing on campus and are active in the fight for marriage equality in Maine. The group has a faculty advisor, but all the Pride Week events were student run, and all the work to put the events together came from student work and effort.
“ Overall we had a really good turn out, and all the events pretty much went off without a hitch,” said group president Kylie Cleary. There were events every night of Pride Week. The first event was “guess who’s gay” which attempted to break down stereotypes, by asking questions to see if the audience could judge people as being gay. There were some surprises where the audience was completely off, showing that your first judgment of a person isn’t always correct.
On Tuesday there was a variety show. It was mostly an open mic night, but there was also a rap by a student, and a drag performance by Rick Brick House. The band Bat Squach (Lives) got a rise out of the audience, when front man Mark Wheeler proclaimed: “we should be able to love who we want to love” in a spoken word portion of one of their songs. Wednesday there was a well attended Karaoke and game night.
Thursday was the most anticipated event of pride week- the drag show. There were two professional queens Chanel Honeywell, and Biranna Ritz, as well as student competitors, including Big Daddy K ( aka Kylie Cleary). The room was packed, and people were having a great time dancing with the performers.
“ The drag show was amazing, and the student competitors were awesome,” said Cleary, who added that this Pride Week drag show was much more organized and she was happier with the outcome than for the fall pride week.“ I thought it was good planning on the part of the (student) committees that there were outrageous events like a drag show, and then game night that made it a lot more inclusive,” said faculty advisor Daina Allen.
Friday was the random party that included music, free sandwiches, and smoothies. There were also many prizes donated by local businesses to make pride week even better.
“I think that people are starting to see us as a actual group, and respect the group now, and we got new members as a result of pride week,” said Cleary.
On Saturday the final event of Pride Week was an 18 plus dance party at the Therapy Lounge, that was well attended by the student body of Husson and NESCom.
“ A good indicator of the climate of acceptance was the number of people at the events who were members of the community,” said Allen.
The point Allen makes was really the point of pride week- to get people to come to the events,support the group, get new members, and build acceptance within the community. The group A GBLT on RYE is still taking new members. There will be more events to plan, and a trip to the annual Rainbow Ball this April. The Rainbow ball is an alternative prom where people my ask who they want to be their date. The person who you are allowed to take to the dance isn‘t dictated by gender. It’s a fun event, and very liberating for those in the GBLT community. A GBLT on RYE meets Wednesday at 7:30 in room 134 Pebody. All are welcome.