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GAYpril events bring awareness to LGBT community on the Hill

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:04

Ally

Courtesy LGBT Center

This year’s annual GAYpril month includes events such as HIV testing, the Lavender Letter Campaign and the Ally Appreciation Soul Food Dinner.

 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and allies on the Hill will come together this month to celebrate and educate the Tufts community about the LGBT experience for the annual GAYpril pride month.

The celebration includes events ranging from free HIV testing to the Queer-Straight Alliance’s (QSA) Annual Drag Show.

GAYpril, which originated at Tufts, is organized by the Tufts LGBT Center and QSA in order to educate and inform the entire university community about LGBT culture, according to sophomore George Murphy, an intern at the LGBT Center.

Emily Mears, a staff assistant for the LGBT Center, added that the purpose of GAYpril is also to welcome and integrate students who have not previously actively participated in LGBT events by organizing a wide range of activities that will interest the entire student community.  

According to Jay Dodd, who leads the Tufts Queer Students of Color and Allies discussion group, it is important to educate the whole community about issues LGBT students are constantly facing. The shows and events put on during GAYpril serve as a way for LGBT students to connect with the whole community, he said.

Dodd, a sophomore, added that he believes it is important for any minority group, such as the LGBT community, to bridge the gap between its experiences and those of its peers. GAYpril is meant to bridge the gap between people who identify with different sexualities, Dodd explained.

“Just because our experiences are inherently different doesn’t mean they are so disjointed,” he said.

According to sophomore Sophia Laster, the purpose of GAYpril is not only to emphasize the presence of the Tufts LGBT community but also to serve as a way for the greater Tufts community to show its support, specifically through the Lavender Letter Campaign, a solidarity campaign that seeks to inspire and continue the work of allies at Tufts. Campaign organizers hope to highlight the allies who take pride in their support of the LGBT community, Laster added.

“It’s a good way to get people to not only say they are an ally but to actually commit and show and tell what they’re doing to be an ally,” Mears said

“It is important to show your support in whatever way you can, and one really great way to do that, during GAYpril, is the Lavender Letter Campaign,” Laster added.  

Throughout this week, allies are invited to have their picture taken wearing a Lavender Letter at the LGBT center between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and to write a sentence about their support, Murphy said. The campaign is a way for allies to show and explain their commitment to the cause and to actively take a stand and promote tolerance education, Mears added.  

According to Mears, the color lavender is a symbol for LGBT rights.

The center will honor those who participate in the Lavender Letter Campaign at its Annual Ally Appreciation Soul Food Dinner next Monday, according to Mears.  

Laster added that the concept of an ally is difficult to define because while some consider an ally to be one who sympathizes with the LGBT community, others define an ally as one who actively works for the betterment of that community.

“The first step to being an ally is to take someone and just accept them, which is really the first step to understanding and appreciating the diversity of humankind,” Laster said.

Murphy said that while the word “ally” has connotations for the LGBT community, an ally is one who fights for all oppressed groups, not solely for LGBT rights.

“An ally is someone who doesn’t just sit by the sidelines, but is actually engaged in lifting the community,” he said. “An ally is someone who recognizes oppression and is active in working against that oppression.”

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