What does pride look like? This past weekend, pride looked like rainbow flags flying high above Franklin Street and processions of singing, dancing, and cheering people parading down Ninth Street in Durham. Pride wasn’t deterred by a torrential downpour, competing with a Duke football game, or even protesters. This weekend’s NC PrideFest was a wonderful show of pride by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, questioning, and allied (LGBTQIA) North Carolina citizens from all walks of life. Each year, it provides the opportunity for individuals and communities in Chapel Hill and Durham to outwardly express their pride and support for the kind of community they would like to live in – an inclusive and welcoming community for all.
Though this weekend was a very visible display that packed the streets of Durham with LGBT pride, it unfortunately only happens once a year. Fear not though! For the remaining 364 days there are so many ways to express our support for and actively work towards an inclusive and supportive community here at Carolina and beyond!
1. Start small. Pick up a button or sticker from the UNC LGBT Center and put it on your backpack, computer, or water bottle.
2. Get trained. Learn more about how to dispel misconceptions, create a safe and inclusive environment, and be an effective ally, whether or not you identify as LGBT, by attending a Safe Zone training here at UNC. Check out http://lgbtq.unc.edu/index.php/programs-services/safe-zone.html for more about the program and upcoming dates and registration. It’s free and awesome!
3. Speak up. Depending on your level of comfort and of course, the situation, consider speaking up when you hear anti-LGBT phrases or words or see them taking place. A simple “I’d prefer you didn’t use that word around me” can go a long way to starting conversations and hopefully, broader change.
4. Vote. Make your voice heard on LGBT issues in North Carolina or your home state by contacting your legislative representatives. Above all, get registered to vote and cast your ballot every chance you get. If you aren’t already registered, check out this site to find out how to get your registration on! (http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/items.aspx?id=1&s=1
5. Get involved. Join a student or community organization here in Chapel Hill. At UNC, you can choose from a variety of organizations – from the LGBT center to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Association (GLBTSA). In the community, organizations like Equality North Carolina (ENC) can connect you with a variety of organizations and activities.
What others do you know of?
These are just five small ways you can work for a university and community that are welcoming, safe, and inclusive of all students. Whatever you do, however small it may be, will help us all take a little more pride in the world around us.