New energy, events and enthusiasm underscore Western’s plans for Pride Month this July.
The university is celebrating all month with educational workshops, a party in the heart of campus and a pledge to recognize and affirm Western’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
“It’s exciting to celebrate our community. It is a celebration, but I think it’s more relevant now than ever to remember Pride started as a protest. With current events around the world, it’s even more vital that we support our Queer community,” said Lesley Oliver, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) specialist with Western’s Office of EDI.
Though Pride month is often observed across the world in June, many events are scheduled throughout the summer months. London, Ont. celebrates Pride in July, including a parade on July 23.
Events all month long
Western’s Pride festivities kick off July 5 with a beach party – at Concrete Beach, that is – featuring a DJ, drag performances and fun for the entire community. Out at the Beach runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with music, rainbow cookies and the raising of the Pride flag.
“People are excited to see something different this year,” said Neisa Long, project associate in the Office of EDI.
Campus leaders will speak about the importance of Pride at the kick-off event.
Other events are scheduled throughout the month, including free, online talks on how to develop vibrant, inclusive spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ community members and students. A lecture on the history of queer and trans movements in Canada will also be hosted via Zoom. The Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) has planned a Pride show at the Grad Club on July 21.
Pride committee flourishing
The Pride organizing committee has expanded hugely over the last year, tripling in size.
“It’s a bigger committee than we’ve ever seen before, and there’s an energy about it,” Oliver said.
Western’s affiliate colleges have also added representatives to the committee. Oliver credited colleague Long with inspiring new passion for Pride planning.
“She encourages the group to bring up different ideas, and she really partnered with them to make some of those plans even better,” Oliver said.
One such idea? Plans for another Pride celebration in the fall, when most Western students return to campus.
“Pride doesn’t just end after one month or two. We wanted to ensure all the members in our community and on our campus, including undergraduate students, are able to see what Western does for Pride,” Long said.
She hopes to keep the organizing committee meeting year-round to build on this year’s momentum.
“I really think we’re doing a good job including voices from all over our campus, including having undergraduate students on our Pride planning committee,” Long said.
“With our team becoming so much bigger, there’s so many different perspectives we’re now able to see. Lots of allyship has been happening with campus partners.”