Gustavus hosts first annual pride parade: Gustavus Queers and Allies rallies in support of BLM and LGBTQ+

Two weeks ago, on Monday, Oct. 5, National Coming Out Week began, and Gustavus Queers and Allies hosted various events to celebrate.
Coming Out Week stands as a way to allow for the LGBTQ+ (which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning) community to safely congregate and help anyone who is a part of the community to express themselves, and lasted from Oct. 5 through Oct. 11.
Starting on Monday, Oct. 5, Coming Out Week kicked off with a monumental moment for most Gusties–painting the rock. The colors the rock was painted were rainbow in order to showcase LGBTQ+ pride. Following this event on Tuesday, those part of the LGBTQ+ community were invited to show off their artistic skills and create LGBTQ+ themed art to go inside of an art exhibit.
On Wednesday, an Open Mic night was hosted in order to allow for those who attended to get something off their chest. The Queers and Allies organization described in their email that it was to be about “making it what you want.”
One member of the LGBTQ+ community, Carter Learned, a first-year theatre major decided to share his thoughts about identity. While not in attendance, he shared what identity means to him and provided words for those both in the LGBTQ+ community and those who are non-LGBTQ.
“For those struggling to find their identity, just know that it is okay to second guess yourself or to change your label. Labels can be fluid, don’t try to force yourself in a box that you don’t feel comfortable in,” Learned said.
“You also don’t have to label yourself. I know people that feel more comfortable just living lives as themselves and without a label. Know that figuring yourself out takes time, and it’s okay to take all the time you need,” Learned said.
Learned also stated his thoughts on some common misconceptions that he believes that those non-LGBTQ has about the LGBTQ+ community.
“I would like to clear up that even though one group may all share the same identity or label, we can all still be wildly different. Just because one LGBTQ+ person believes or thinks one thing does not mean that everyone else similar to them does as well,” Learned said.
“The least you can do is ask the person their preferences before assuming their views or ideas surrounding a certain thing,” Learned said.
Friday, the first annual Gustavus Pride parade was held. It started at 5 P.M. at the 3 Flags and followed a path to Centennial Plaza.
“This rally will be the opportunity for the student body to raise its voice and let the administration hear those voices,” stated the Queers and Allies email for the march.
It also doubled as a Black Lives Matter march, which later ended up morphing into a LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter Rally.
“The pride parade is important to me because my identity is something to be proud of…Being able to be out and proud about myself is a luxury that far too many people around the globe don’t have, so we must celebrate it when we can,” Learned said.
“[It is also] important for everyone because it is a celebration of diversity and life. We as people are wonderfully diverse and different, and we should be able to celebrate our differences and share our experiences with others. It is also a celebration of life [for] hundreds and thousands of other LGBT+ people that unfortunately cannot be there,” Learned said.
“We as a group have gone through indescribable hardships and discrimination, so the fact that we can now celebrate and participate in pride events is so important,” Learned said.
Coming Out Week rounded itself out, ending with the art exhibition that includes the art that was created on Tuesday, Oct. 6, and a Drag show on Sunday, Oct. 11.

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