Caleigh Sowder/ISLAND WAVES - Event attendees read posters on the wall that explain different identities and historical events like the Stonewall Demonstrations.
Caleigh Sowder/ISLAND WAVES - Event attendees read posters on the wall that explain different identities and historical events like the Stonewall Demonstrations.

‘Honour Our Past, Honor Our Future’ encourages inclusion and remembrance of LGBTQ+

October 9, 2019

For the first year ever, National Coming Out Day has transformed into a week, starting with celebrations and education in the Mary and Jeff Bell Library yesterday, Oct. 7. The Islander Cultural Alliance (ICA) and the Inclusive Islander Network hung educational posters and dished out cookies and conversations about National Coming Out Week.

Different posters were hung on the walls, the colorful designs attracting students to learn more about different identities and sexualities like gender fluid, non-binary and bisexuality.

“The exhibit is called ‘Honor Our Past, Honor Our Future,’” said Isabella Ruggiero, graduate assistant for the Inclusive Islander Network, “and what it really focuses on is educating people about the different gender identities, as well as talking about these kind of big cases in the media in terms of hate crimes.”

Ruggiero explained a couple posters that expanded on the historic media portrayal of the Stonewall Demonstrations, most commonly known as the Stonewall Riots, and how members of the LGBTQ+ community today are still targets of violence.

“For example, Malaysia Booker was a transgender woman in Dallas — and this is really recently, about in May,” said Ruggiero. “She was actually found first beaten, and then she reported it to the police, and then she was found dead. It really just shows her case is one example that these crimes are happening in history, and they’re happening in present day.”

The goal of the event was to not only provide education, but to let students of different identities know they are included and safe on campus.

From left to right, Aaron Jaggers, junior theatre major, Sarah Robinson, senior theatre major, and Jennifer Cantu, senior education major, enjoy refreshments.

“It’s been our goal that we have people that, no matter what their identity is,” said Ruggiero, “feel like the Island is a place that they can call home, and that they’re also really supported.

“As we talk a lot about our diversity and inclusion work,” continued Ruggiero, “just because something may not be happening to your, or to your friends and to your realm doesn’t mean that’s not happening to other people. Just because you may not agree with someone else doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat them with respect.”

Students like Karen Perez, junior psychology and communications major and member of the Islander Pride Alliance, believe events like this on campus are important to creating better understandings.

“I’m really happy that ICA and Pride Alliance is kind of making a presence on campus now, even more than ever,” said Perez. “I think that’s really important considering the political climate nowadays.

“I would just try to encourage other students to try and come even though it may be kind of hard to understand,” continued Perez, “but at least allowing space for other people to express their individuality is important.”

Isabella Ruggiero, middle, has a conversation with a student about the event.

If you want someone to talk to about your identity and any struggles you may be facing, Ruggiero suggested the Counseling Center, ICA and I-Care.

“Molly Becker is our I-Care officer,” said Ruggiero, “and she does great work. If she doesn’t know the answer to the question, she will be able to find students a resource so that they will be supported.”

The big celebration will be on the East Lawn tomorrow, Oct. 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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