EWU celebrating nine years of Pride Week

By Tania Nuñez, Contributor

This year marks the ninth annual Pride Week at EWU, which celebrates LGBTQ+ voices and strives to connect individuals, not only on campus, but across the Inland Northwest. Pride Week kicks off Monday, April 23 and ends Friday, May 4.

“It’s important to bring folks together every now and then,” Dr. Nick Franco, the Pride Center manager said. “When I hear students talk about Pride Week, it’s like this is a time for us and they often don’t feel there are times for them on campus.”

The theme for this year’s Pride Week, “20-Gay-Teen,” was inspired by musician Hayley Kiyoko’s tweet at the beginning of this year, which says, “It’s our year, it’s our time. To thrive and let our souls feel alive. #20GAYTEEN #expectations2018.”

Pride Week begins on April 23 at 5 p.m. with a screening of “Big Eden” at the Pride Center, located at Showalter 105.

On Tuesday, a panel discussion titled “Are Gay Bars Safe Spaces?” will take place at 1 p.m. at Patterson 117. This session will focus on educating and informing members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community on the impact and culture of gay bars.

Also on Tuesday, at 6 p.m. in the Showalter Auditorium, the Eagle Pride Talent Show will commence.

Myranda Schee, a student who participated in the talent show last year, voiced excitement for this year’s show.

“Everyone was just so encouraging of each other and everyone has different things; people read poetry or sing songs,” Schee said. “You get to connect more with the community.”

Wednesday’s event is the clothing swap in Monroe 205 from 1-2 p.m. This is the first clothing swap for the Pride Center that focuses on allocating clothes for transgender and nonbinary persons.

“For trans and nonbinary folks, shopping for clothes that align with the gender that you know yourself to be […] can be very intimidating and scary and discriminatory,” said Franco. “This is a shopping experience that, regardless of how you identify, you will be welcomed and affirmed.”  

Senior Mels Felton, who helped organize the clothing swap, emphasized the importance of this event.

“There’s an opportunity to get pretty much free clothing, which is like getting a new wardrobe,” Felton said. “It’s one of the more financially difficult things about transitioning besides actual surgery and therapy.”

Donations for this event should be dropped off by Tuesday, May 1.

On Thursday, the fourth annual student drag show featuring Vida Amoré Divas will begin at 6 p.m. in the Showalter Auditorium.

Pride Week concludes with Lavender Graduation at 6 p.m. in the Hargreaves Reading Room. This is an event that honors LGBTQ+ and ally graduates on campus.

“What’s really special about Eastern’s [Lavender Graduation] is that it’s open to any LGBTQ or ally graduate in the Inland Northwest,” said Franco. “So our ceremony invites any high school student, community college student, or any of the other university students to come and be recognized.”

According to the Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey data from 2015, 12.1 percent of EWU freshmen identified as LGBTQ+. Franco cites this information as another reason signifying the importance of Pride Week.

“Pride Week is about helping other people on campus recognize that this is a significant portion of the student population,” said Franco. “This is about, yeah, we’re visible. We’re here and we’re queer, here we are.”