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ISSUE 121 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/14/2008

Pride week raises consciousness

By Monica Southworth
Staff Writer


Friday, March 14, 2008

Last week, GLOW (Gay Lesbian or Whatever!) and the Gender and Sexuality Center hosted Pride Week, designed to highlight issues and raise awareness regarding sexual orientation.

"I think that unanimously it was probably one of the better or one of the best Pride Weeks we've had at St. Olaf," said GLOW! co-coordinator Steffen Foss '08. "We had one of the most impressive lineups ever. This was the most packed and most attended pride week we've had."

The week was kicked off with the Drag Ball featuring Gizelle, drag queen extraordinaire on March 1. DJ Shannon Blowtorch from Pi Bar & Restaurant kept the music going through the night as Oles showed up in the finest drag.

The week continued with faculty and staff discussion about safe spaces on campus for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer persons and also discussed integrating more GLBTQ issues into the curriculum. At this event there were six faculty and staff members and the discussion fluctuated between attendees and the faculty about GLBTQ issues on campus. GLOW! co-coordinator Mara Calvert '09 described the discussion as intimate and that the group in attendance was fairly familiar with each other.

"I think it was well received and very productive," Foss said.

Another event was sponsored by the Wellness Center to inform people about safe sex methods for GLBT persons. The information given by the center is not usually talked about, which made the event especially important.

On Wednesday, the Lion's Lair hosted Ellis, a St. Olaf alumna, for a night of music. Ellis played acoustic folk music for the audience. The turnout for the evening was high and the Lair was full. Before the concert, Ellis visited the Gender and Sexuality Center at Thompson House.

During community time, GLOW! set up a table in Buntrock Commons with music, giving out information and buttons; there was even a drag fashion show for passersby to enjoy. The week concluded with Esme Rodriguez and Drag and Gender Performance. Esme Rodriguez is a drag queen and a doctoral student (also known as T. Kupin).

After the performance, there was a discussion of gender performance. The drag show had four performers, and was well attended by St. Olaf students, Carleton students and some faculty and staff as well. Afterwards, the discussion turned to questions about gender performance and took an academic look at the performance that the audience had just seen.

Foss said that the biggest question that was asked was, "What is gender?" Discussion went around the ideas of gender as performance and identity.

Other upcoming GLOW! events include the National Day of Silence on April 25 and monthly movie nights. GLOW! is a group with the purpose of educating and providing information that, according to their website, will "foster acceptance and support for self-identified GLBTQ persons" with the hope of creating a safe environment.

On the Day of Silence, students who freely volunteer will be showing their support by not speaking. Usually, they carry around cards and notepads to explain why they are choosing to not speak. Foss said it is likely they will have a demonstration bringing attention to the issues.

"We'll be getting the message out more to the campus about why we're not speaking, and why we're being silent," Foss said.

Foss said that there was a very good response this year to Pride Week. The hallway display between Buntrock and Rolvaag was a success, with a place for people to stop and write their reasons for support. Along with the reasons were photographs of students who voiced their solidarity.





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