UAA celebrates LGBT Month

October celebrates LGBT Month and celebrates the struggles of this community and seeks to educate students.

Parade-goers march in the 2019 Pride Parade in downtown Anchorage. Photo by Christina Swayney.

In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months included in the Library of Congress. LGBT is an umbrella term used to refer to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as a whole. There are many other terms that go beyond this definition and other forms of identification that cannot be categorized.

UAA Chief Diversity Officer Jennifer Booz discusses why it is important to acknowledge community spotlights such as LGBT Month in a video titled “UAA Celebrates History and Heritage Months.” The video can be found at the UAA website under UAA Student Calendar.

“It’s important for us to celebrate and acknowledge history and heritage months across our academic year. One of the reasons we want to do that is to listen to the stories of those who’ve come before us and our elders and understand their struggles that led to the freedoms and opportunities that we have today,” Booz said in the video.

The founder of LGBT month is Rodney Wilson. He grew up with a Christian Fundamentalist background and was a teacher in Missouri when he decided that October should be LGBT Month. He sought to find his own identity first with his Christian faith and then later in LGBT history. His studies led him to advocate for the celebration of this month.

“LGBT history gave me self-confidence as a gay person and strengthened my resolve to live, as best I could, an honest, open, and integrated life. It gave me a deeper sense of place and potential. Could it do the same for others? I wondered,” said Wilson in an article he wrote for The Advocate.

LGBT Month begins with National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. This marks the 32nd anniversary of National Coming Out Day, which began prior to LGBT Month. On Oct. 11, 1987, 500,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Anchorage is a location for National Pride Stride, an LGBTQ+ virtual 5k that celebrates National Coming Out Day. The race runs until Oct. 31 and participants can run, jog or walk at their own pace at any time since it is a virtual event.

An attendee of the 2019 Pride Parade celebrates with flags. Photo by Christina Swayney.
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UAA will also have a Family Trivia Night on Oct. 11, from 7-9 p.m. This will be a virtual event and students can register for free on the event’s UAA Life webpage. It will feature prizes and be hosted by The Family, a UAA Student organization that is “a social club for UAA students that fall everywhere and anywhere in the queer community and their allies,” according to their Facebook page. In addition to The Family, UAA also has Drag+, an all-inclusive student group which “seeks to be a fun and welcoming group focused on appreciating and sharing the queer art form of drag,” according to their mission statement.

On Oct. 13, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., students can join Melly Burger from The Family as they take over UAA Student Life & Leadership’s Instagram to celebrate LGBT History Month.

A Twitter watch party, will take place on Oct. 16, from 7-10 p.m., and will feature the movie “The Birdcage.” This 1996 comedy features Robin Williams, who plays a gay cabaret owner who has to disguise his sexual identity to accommodate his son’s fiancée’s parents’ right-wing moralistic views. Further details of this event will be updated on the UAA Master Calendar.

The UAA Safe Zone offers resources to the LGBTQ+ community, such as community-inclusive training, free HIV and STD testing and many other resources to support and promote awareness. For LGBTQ+ support and information about the community, contact Identity Alaska, located in downtown Anchorage. They provide community support to the LGBTQ+ community of Anchorage and beyond, with programs like youth summits and helping to organize events such as the Pride Parade. They are closed to the public because of the pandemic but still respond to email and phone at 907-929-4528.