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LGBTQ Center to celebrate 20th anniversary and annual Pride Week

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Various pride pins were offered to patrons who visited the Coming Out Day table in the Pit on Oct. 11. The event was sponsored by UNC's LGBTQ Center. The organization will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.

Staff at UNC’s LGBTQ Center have been preparing for this year’s Pride Week with an important new milestone in mind: its 20th anniversary.

This week, the center will be celebrating the 2023 Pride Week at Carolina. The University celebrates Pride Week in April because students are not on campus during national Pride Month in June. 

This year’s celebration, which includes a week full of events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community at the University, will also incorporate a celebration of the center itself and its history, said Jamillae Stockett, assistant director at the LGBTQ Center.

“I honestly think that the history of the center is composed of a lot of different things," she said. "It's the people, it's the history, it's the University, it's the community, it's the students. And the reason why we pull these particular events together for Pride Week is we wanted for all of those components to be highlighted.”

On Monday, Pride Week will begin with the opening of the 20th Anniversary Gallery in the Student Union. 

The interactive, immersive exhibit will allow visitors to view items from the center’s archives and will also celebrate the center's history. 

“With the 20th anniversary gallery exhibition, specifically, I think it would be amazing for folks to see the impact that the center has had over the years and the storied history that has kind of led us to where we are today. But also set the tone for where we can go from here,” Bryanna Coulter, the LGBTQ Center’s administrative support specialist, said.

The remainder of the week will feature a variety of events for the campus community to participate in. 

On Tuesday, the center plans to hold Pride in the Pit: a student focused celebration with games, giveaways, and opportunities to learn more about the LGBTQ Center. 

The celebration will continue on Thursday with "Twilight Thursday" at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens. On Friday, events will highlight artist Taína Asili with a reception and musical performance. And on Saturday, LGBTQ+-centered campus tours led by the Carolina Pride Alumni Network will take place. 

Sarah Zhang, a sophomore at UNC, said she is excited to learn more about the history of the LGBTQ+ community through the week’s events and is happy to see them creating queer and transgender visibility at UNC. Zhang also said they are happy to see campus spaces such as the LGBTQ+ Center discussing intersectionality. 

“I think it's really awesome and powerful that all of these groups are coming together to support historically-resilient identities,” Zhang said. “I don't know if the same can be said for student groups on campus. I think that building solidarity and uplifting people's identities on campus is something that students need to put more thought into.”

While this year’s 20th anniversary celebration will shed light on the journey of the center at UNC, it will also discuss their future. 

Going forward, Stockett said the center is hoping to expand their network of allies by building on their community partnerships with student organizations, as well as both on- and off-campus agencies. 

“Our biggest excitement and motivation is to keep building on that, and keep building a strong network, and connecting with the students in the community,” she said. “So that's where all of our heart and effort has gone into.”

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