Pride Week will be hosted this week, beginning April 25 and ending on April 30. The week, which has become well-developed in the past few years, continues to excite the University of Maine community. Put on by students in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community and UMaine’s LGBTQ services, the week ends the academic year by continuing to recognize the LGBTQ community in a fun and educational manner.
The week starts off with the raising of the pride flag on the University Mall at noon. In past ceremonies, many students from the UMaine community catch the raising of the flag in between classes and gather to celebrate the opening of the week’s festivities.
“One thing I really like about it is how everyone looks forward to it,” Administrative Aide for LGBTQ Services, Casey Rogers, said. “It’s like a big celebration.”
The Rainbow Resource Center will be starting off the week with a Sexual Assault Awareness Writing Showcase on Monday evening, which is a new event to Pride Week.
“Arianna Sessoms, the Grad Student for the Office of Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention, and I wanted to bring together Pride Week and Sexual Assault Awareness month, which is April,” Rogers said. “So we came up with a writing showcase and we kind of came up with a theme, such as stuff having to do with pride, courage and strength.”
On Tuesday, Rogers also mentioned that there will be another new event, called “Tootsie Rolls, not Gender Roles,” where Amy Schmitt, Administrative Aide for LGBTQ Services, will be leading an educational presentation on gender roles.
Pride Week will continue to hold additional events throughout the week with other groups and organizations on the UMaine Campus, such as hosting the presentation, “Out for Work: LGBT in the Workplace,” in the Career Center Library, Monday afternoon, as well as a special Kickin’ Flicks showing of the film “Rent” in the Collins Center for the Arts on Wednesday evening.
LGBTQ services also wanted to include popular events from past Pride Weeks. They will continue to host Safe Zone Trainings halfway through the week on Thursday afternoon. Once again, they will also conclude Pride Week with the annual Drag Show on Saturday evening. In the past, the Drag Show has been a huge hit. According to Rogers, the past few years have been a challenge in finding the right venue to house everyone attending the Drag Show. Last year, a handful of people had to be turned away due to Minsky Recital Hall not being large enough. This year, the event will be held at the Rec Center where there will be more space for the anticipated crowd.
“We have pins that say, ‘Furst,’ because the drag queen hosting is Mimi Imfurst, and if you come to any of the Pride Week events prior to the drag show, and stay till the end of the event, you will get one of the pins, which will get you into the show first,” Rogers said. “So it’s super awesome, and it’s our initiative to get more people to go to the other events.”
“This is actually going to be the first pride week that I’m active and part of,” UMaine biochemistry student, Rebecca King, said. “Personally I’m most excited to see the Drag Show … mostly because I got to see Husson’s drag show last semester, and this year, at this drag show, I’m going to be part of it, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
“I would say that I am most excited for the drag show,” Rogers said. “Just because we put so much work into it, and so many people come and look forward to it. It’s also like the big bang that ends the week.”
“My freshman year, I was a little too busy to know that Pride Week was even going on. But just having that visibility there, and getting everybody all ramped up is great. And even people [who] aren’t typically part of the community; who don’t really come into the Rainbow Resource Center, people that don’t go to Wilde Stein — they will still go to Pride Week Events,” King said. “It’s out there, it’s open and it’s fun. Getting that little feedback from the community can be really assuring for people here.”