Thursday, April 23, 2009

P.R.I.D.E. Panel Raises Awareness, Answers

Answering With Pride

By Zachary Hughes

As part of an ongoing week of events, People R
especting Individuality in Education (P.R.I.D.E.) hosted a panel Tuesday night in the Flint Hills Room of Memorial Union. The panel members answered questions about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered community.

“I was invited to come to this event by a friend, and I support P.R.I.D.E., so I decided to come and show that support,” said Jonathan Heath, sophomore psychology major. “I’m interested to hear what kinds of questions were asked.”

Questions were selected from a box which was available in the Memorial Union Monday afternoon for students to submit questions to be answered by a P.R.I.D.E. member. Questions answered included issues related to discrimination, identity expression and “coming out.”

Answering questions related to GLBT issues was part of a larger goal of education over P.R.I.D.E. week, said Derrek Zietz, junior communication major and education chair for P.R.I.D.E.

“What we are there for is to educate, not only the group but the public as well, as to discrimination issues that affect students, particularly the GLBTQA community, which stands for Gay Lesbian Bisexual Trans-gendered Questioning and Ally community,” Zietz said. “We are there to educate on political issues that affect us in Emporia and around the world.”

The overall idea behind P.R.I.D.E. week is one of information and awareness, including spreading knowledge about what it means to be a member of P.R.I.D.E. and what it means to be an ally, Zietz said.

Allies, a term for any individual who supports raising awareness and support for GLBT issues, were represented during an Ally Appreciation Day on Wednesday, Zietz said.

“Ally Day is to raise awareness in the general public that just because you are a member of P.R.I.D.E. doesn’t mean you’re gay… you can be an Ally and be heterosexual,” Zietz said. “Just because you see someone supporting P.R.I.D.E. doesn’t mean you are gay and people shouldn’t assume that.”

Educating people over trans-issues was also a major goal during the week.

“We also wanted to educate people on what it means to be trans-gendered, transvestite, and so on, and let people know what that means,” Zietz said, “which is why we’re holding Thursday’s event.”

Thursday’s events include a speech by Sylvia Guerrero, the mother of a murdered trans-individual, which will take place at 7 p.m. in the Kanza Room of the Memorial Union.

P.R.I.D.E. week was the result of a collaboration of efforts between P.R.I.D.E. and supportive groups and individuals at and around ESU.

“The ESU groups have been awesome in helping us get this together, Amnesty International in particular,” Zietz said. “Several organizations donated money to us, including some groups off campus, and we’re really thankful for that.”

For those who attended, P.R.I.D.E. represented the ability of GLBT people to stand in the open without fear. For psychology graduate student Joshua Smith, that also means respecting individuals for who they are.

That respect includes an awareness that GLBT issues are not simply hot-topic or trendy issues and that organizations like P.R.I.D.E. are created in the spirit of fostering unity rather than antagonism, Smith said.

“We want to send a message that we as the GLBTQA community are here, and we’re not going away or sitting silently,” Smith said. “It’s time to accept us for who we are – we’re not anyone’s enemies, we’re just people like everyone else.”

Standing up (ok, sitting down) for our rights!

Keep a smile on your face and love in your heart!

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