Students filing out of class early Wednesday afternoon were surprised by what they saw when they passed Old Main: An arc of rainbow balloons spreading across the steps. And a colorful celebration.
Pride Week, an annual event that promotes acceptance and support for the university’s LGBTQA community, is in full swing at Penn State. The week includes a plethora of events, from a intensive three-day workshop focusing on identity to a concert at Chumley’s benefitting the AIDS Project of State College to a drag show on Friday night at the HUB. At Wednesday’s rally, which lasted about an hour, a handful of spectators donned red t-shirts that read, “40 years and still queer, 40 years and still here.” The logo is Pride Week’s theme this year, celebrating the history and strides of LGBTQA organizations at Penn State.
Several speakers—from active leaders in Penn State’s LGBTQA community to the president of the State College High Gay Straight Alliance—stepped up to the makeshift stage in the middle of campus. They told stories of friends who came out, discussed what the LGBTQA community meant to them, and shared personal experiences. Perhaps the loudest applause came when the vice president of the Penn State chapter of Delta Lamdba Phi, a national fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men, pointed to his father in the crowd. ”He was the person I was most terrified to come out to,” he said. “And now he’s my biggest supporter.”
As the crowd of about 75 people erupted in applause, two female students sporting backpacks strolled by. ”Wow,” one student said to her friend. “That’s really cool he could share that in front of all these people in the middle of campus. Really cool.”
Emily Kaplan, intern