The UNC LGBTQ Center, along with various student organizational partners, hosted UNC’s annual Pride Week celebration from April 6 through 13.
Pride Week this year featured a variety of virtual events, including a Pride baking party, an LGBTQ book club meeting, Pride wellness hour, Pride Pictionary and a Pride film screening. These events, held by different organizations around campus, are intended to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community on UNC’s campus and give students a space to connect with each other within the community.
April Callis, the assistant director of the LGBTQ Center, said the Center’s first Pride Week was held in 2019 after many students and student organizations began asking for one.
“Student leaders from various LGBTQ organizations on campus said they were really interested in having some sort of week-long celebration and doing something collaborative,” Callis said. “They were really interested in bringing together partners from all across campus.”
The first Pride Week featured over 15 different events, including a queer prom as the final event. Since then, Callis said, the celebration has grown in size, with this year’s Pride Week including over 30 different events.
Because of its virtual status, this year’s Pride Week also included Pride boxes, which were sent to around 150 students. The boxes, which were organized by Callis and the LGBTQ Center’s student ambassadors, included rainbow decorations, candies, stuffed animals and books related to Pride.
“Last year, for me I will say it was a bit more intimate because I was able to have those conversations in person,” Richards said. “I was able to talk about my experience, my journey here at Carolina in person and more importantly, I was able to celebrate with others in person.”
Richards said he still felt that this year’s Pride Week allowed him to support his peers — and feel supported by them in turn.
For Richards, Pride Week is an important celebration not only for queer identity and community at UNC, but for understanding the struggles the LGBTQ+ community has faced to get where it is now.
“Being the first Black, gay student body president, obviously I think it’s really important for us to have a Pride Week here at the University,” Richards said.
He said he thinks it’s important to not look at identities in a limited way.
“We should not focus on a single identity, but the intersection of all the identities and what that does and what that makes us,” Richards said.
Richards said he hoped that future Pride Weeks would allow for a larger conversation about intersectionality and privilege within the LGBTQ+ community to understand the different experiences of the queer community.
Sophomore Cade Klimek, a media and journalism major, has not attended a Pride Week at the University yet but said that it still felt very important to him, personally.
“I think that for so much of the identity of an LGBTQ+ person, I think a lot of the societal ramifications of that identity are negative, so anything positive is something that I look forward to,” Klimek said. “We’re living in times where visibility for these marginalized communities is more important than ever, so I think that visibility on campus is really important too.”
For Richards, the celebration and visibility of the LGBTQ+ community on campus is an important part of Pride Week, but he also said it was essential to continue that celebration even after Pride Week ends.
“Remember that Pride Week is just a name,” Richards said. “It is a name for a week that we’ve designated as important, but the deeper sense behind it should be present all the time.”
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