Pride in the Rainbow State

LGBTQ+ Center celebrates first anniversary

Staff Writer: Rosannah Gosser
Staff Photographer: Elizabeth Lough

A group of students sitting at a table

It’s Friday afternoon on the third floor of the Campus Center. Bouquets of multicolored balloons festoon tables sprinkled with candy while the room fills with people talking over spoonfuls of rainbow sherbet. The LGBTQ+ Center is celebrating one year since its creation in 2016 and gearing up for another year of activities, trainings, films, holidays, and events. Coordinated and led by Laura Sherwood, the center strives to establish a safe space for anyone, including members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies, to express themselves freely and socialize with fellow peers who are passionate about social equality.

“The goal is to have a place for students, whether they’re LGBTQ+ or allies, to support each other, especially with the political climate and all of the issues with transgender people losing rights,” Sherwood explains. “We want to have a strong campus that exemplifies, supports, and honors diversity.”

The term “LGBTQ+” recognizes people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer, as well as all other sexual identities and gender expressions. Here in the Pacific, other gender identities include māhū of Hawaii and fa’afafine of Samoa.

At the center’s anniversary social, conversation drifts to the binary classifications that society tends to enforce on people. From a very young age, we’re often given labels that construct boundaries about our sex, gender, and sexuality. Clothing, bathrooms, popular media, even Happy Meal toys tell us that we have to pick one way to identify ourselves. Realistically, the human experience is much more fluid. The LGBTQ+ community seeks to tear down those walls and build a society of inclusion, diversity, and acceptance of our differences.

In a society that still largely imposes dichotomous divisions of male and female, husband and wife, and man and woman, it’s important to acknowledge diversity and defend the rights that every person, regardless of who they love and who they identify as, is entitled to. “We want people to take action and have their voice heard,” says Sherwood. “We can make change, and I think that’s what bringing people together is about. Those who feel passionate about those things can create that change.” Rewiring the attitudes and perceptions that society gives to people who don’t fit into the preconceived boxes starts with us. “Aren’t WE society?” remarks a fellow student. And what better place to stand up for those rights than in the Rainbow State?

The LGBTQ+ center, located in Campus Center room 311, will be offering events throughout the semester, including Ally Week starting on September 26th and National Coming Out Day on October 11th, in honor of LBGTQ+ History Month. The center also periodically hosts Safe Zone Trainings to develop campus awareness of how to be an ally and offer support towards those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Fall 2017

  • September 26: Ally Week, 10-2pm CC Plaza
  • September 28: Safe Zone Training, 5-7pm CC306
  • October 11: National Coming Out Day, 10-2pm CC301
  • October 13: Friday the 13th, 5pm CC301
  • October 17: Spirit Day- wear purple
  • October 18: Film- Outrun, 5:30 UCB100
  • October 26: Safe Zone Training, 5-7pm CC306
  • November 8: Conversation Cafe, 12-1:30 Library Lanai
  • November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance film: Kumu Hina, 5:30 UCB100
  • November 30: Safe Zone Training, 5-7pm CC306
  • December 1: World AIDS Day, CC Plaza