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GLC Celebrates Pride Week With BC Community

Paints of all colors splashed onto canvases in the Vanderslice Hall Cabaret Room on Friday as students gathered for an art picnic event that encapsulated the feeling of community that Pride Week is all about. 

“I think the biggest thing is that [Pride Week] means community and celebrating it,” said Mo Kazim, CSOM ʼ23. “It wasn’t until I surrounded myself with queer friends that I realized just how awesome it is to be part of this community, and I think Pride Week just takes that to a whole new level.”

Pride Week, held by UGBC’s GLBTQ+ Leadership Council (GLC), is a week-long series of events that celebrates queer joy on campus. The events were held from Oct. 11, which is National Coming Out Day, through Friday. 

“So Pride Week is essentially GLC’s celebration of the week surrounding National Coming Out Day,” said Chris Rizzo, chair of GLC and MCAS ’22. “This is a little bit of our substitute for Pride Month in June … we don’t have a chance to celebrate then so we celebrate now.”

The week consisted of the art picnic and several other on-campus events, including an alumni panel, allyship bingo, a movie screening of Pariah—a 2011 film about a Black teenager coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian—and “My Sibling’s Keeper,” an open discussion about sibling allyship.

Pride Week surrounds the celebration of queer identities, according to Gianna Russi, vice president of UGBC and MCAS ’22.

“I definitely think that Pride Week is a time of celebration for queer students on campus, and it’s just been great to see the events roll out this whole week and have different events every day celebrating identity,” Russi said.

Emely Accostupa, MCAS ʼ25, described Pride Week as an opportunity to both celebrate the community and for LGBTQ+ students to embrace their own identities.

“Pride Week to me means the celebration of everything that has to do with being a part of the LGBTQ community and embracing who you are no matter where you are in the process,” Accostupa said. “Whether you just came out or you’re well out for so many years or you’re still figuring it out … or even if you’re just an ally.”

Russi hopes Pride Week attendees took away constructive tips on how to be a good ally, which is an important aspect of building a supportive BC community, she said.

“I hope that people that attended these events that don’t identify with the community took away … a tidbit about what it means to be an ally for friends but also for those around us in the BC community so we can become more aware and just a more well-rounded and supportive community,” Russi said.

Straight allyship is an important part of GLC’s programming, according to Rizzo. He said that straight peers are always welcome to GLC events and meetings, as straight support is an important part of affirming queer existence on campus.

“Every time that you speak up about a transphobic joke or you counteract somebody who uses the F slur—which is all too common on this campus—you’re making a difference in the queer people’s lives who are in the room,” he said. “I think it is … all of our jobs to create a community where hate of any kind is unacceptable.”

Russi said she believes the week was a success and praised the hard work that GLC does for all students at BC. 

“GLC has just done an amazing job at all the planning, and they’ve been very thoughtful for all their initiatives,” Russi said. “But I also think, you know, the turnout from students … is really great too.

Rizzo said he was satisfied with the outcome of Pride Week and thought the programming met the needs of the student body. He also said GLC has a two-pronged goal right now.

“We’re always trying to provide a space to build community where people celebrate their identities because it’s tough to do on BC’s campus that is, you know, blatantly homophobic and transphobic,” Rizzo siad. “So, we always want to offer a space for queer joy, and to let people celebrate themselves, but we also have the goal of educating our … straight, cisgender peers … I feel like we’ve accomplished much towards both of those goals.”

Despite the positive atmosphere of the event, some LGBTQ+ students expressed their dissatisfaction with how the BC administration has handled the needs of the queer community. 

Aneesa Wermers, vice chair of GLC and GSSW ʼ23, described how though they felt supported by their own friends, the administration has been unresponsive to the LGBTQ+ community’s needs.

“At least from the administration I feel like there have been a lot of instances where we’ve expressed that we need certain resources and that the queer community would really benefit from having more discussions in the classroom and from the administration that are impacting the LGBTQ+ community,” Wermers said. “However, I think I found a really good community within BC, especially through GLC.”

Similarly, Kazim said that the BC administration has done little for the LGBTQ+ community and that the student body has had to pick up the slack in regards to accepting and supporting queer students.

“I think [the administration] has made it clear in the past that they don’t really wanna support LGBTQ students,” Kazim said. “I don’t think that’s something that’s anywhere near the top of their agenda.” 

Rizzo also spoke about GLC’s goals in progressing LGBTQ+ rights and support on campus, both at the administrative level and the individual student level. 

“There is the administrative side, and that’s significant concessions from the University on those issues that were brought up, giving LGBTQ+ students a physical space together is huge,” Rizzo said. “And another part of that [is] the administration … overhauling DiversityEdu, really making the diversity and inclusion training that Boston College students go through a lot more comprehensive.”

Rizzo also acknowledged the University’s lack of an LGBTQ+ resource center, an initiative that, for several years, GLC, UGBC, and some BC community members have been advocating for. 

Rizzo referred to the resource center as GLC’s “white whale” and said it is imperative that BC offer a space on campus where LGBTQ+ students know that they can gather with people like themselves.

“Having an institution, a permanent institution like a resource center, legitimizes and normalizes the presence of students here,” Rizzo said. “It shows that Boston College has our back.”

Accostupa said one of the things that BC has failed to address is the safety of LGBTQ+ students, especially given recent incidents targeting members of the queer community, such as the vandalism at Williams Hall last April.  

“I think [the BC administration should] incorporate more safety-wise,” Accostupa said. “I think that’s the main issue that’s really been going around with hate crimes and everything.”

Wermers echoed the importance of a student center for the LGBTQ+ community and said it would go a long way in acknowledging the existence of queer students on campus.

“If BC … makes the effort to make that space for us and meet the other needs that we have, especially gender-neutral bathrooms, having IDs that correctly identify [students] … and having a queer living and learning community, having those kinds of things would really be helpful,” Wermers said. “I think the biggest thing is acknowledgement and action.”

Images by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

October 17, 2021