Prism Celebrates Queer Identities with Gaypril

Prism+members+encouraged+students+to+wear+pride+colors+and+come+by+their+table+in+the+Elliott+Student+Union+for+stickers%2C+candy+and+pronoun+buttons.+Photo+submitted+by+Michael+Reece

Prism members encouraged students to wear pride colors and come by their table in the Elliott Student Union for stickers, candy and pronoun buttons. Photo submitted by Michael Reece

Written by Madison Preston, Reporter

   Gaypril, held during the week of April 12-16, gives queer students the opportunity to celebrate their identities on campus. Gaypril consists of events like Lavender Graduation and various workshops, and it is hosted by Prism, UCM’s LGBTQ+ organization. This year, many events that are typically held in-person had to be shifted to be held on Zoom.

  Prism Adviser Rachel Clements said the organization creates a safe space for people to share and learn about the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

  “As a minority population, LGBTQIA+ students face challenges that other students do not face,” Clements said. “We provide a safe space for students to be their authentic selves, learn about various identities within the LGBTQIA+ community and express those identities with which they identify. We also provide inclusive events for people who are not LGBTQIA+ to be allies and share and learn about the community.”

  Clements said that Gaypril is beneficial for the whole campus.

  “I strongly believe this week-long event is beneficial to UCM, as it allows our LGBTQIA+ students to share their own stories and celebrate their pride, where otherwise they may not be able to do so,” Clements said. “It benefits those outside the LGBTQIA+ community by providing the opportunity to ask questions about the community, show their support as allies and learn about the myriad identities under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.”

  Gaypril allows students to feel proud of who they are and educate others about the community.

  One of the most popular events during Gaypril is the Second Chance Dance, which is a prom-like dance held in the Elliott Student Union and is open to the Warrensburg community.

  Rules against same-sex couples prevent many LGBTQ+ students from enjoying prom, so the Second Chance Dance allows them an opportunity to celebrate as themselves.

  Prism President and senior computer science student Michael Reece has been a part of Prism for four years. Reece said they, unfortunately, could not host the Second Chance Dance because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

  Reece said this event is a highlight of Gaypril and allows couples to be accepted.

  “I’ve been a part of Prism since my very first semester at UCM four years ago. For the first two years, the highlight was always Second Chance Dance,” Reece said. “Their smiles really make all the hard work to put it on worth it.”

  Lavender Graduation is another event that lets students celebrate as themselves. Reece said Lavender Graduation is very important to them as a senior.

  “I am unable to graduate using my chosen name for multiple reasons. My dead name is on my diploma. This is a really painful thing for me to think about,” Reece said. “Having a chance to celebrate my accomplishment with my family that I’ve built here on campus, using my name, is so rewarding.”

  Some families are unaware of a graduate’s identity, so traditional graduation can be more stressful than rewarding. Lavender Graduation is intended to combat that stress.

  “Many LGBTQIA+ students are not out to their families, so when it’s time for commencement, they have to go back in the closet and hide who they are,” Clements said. “Lavender Graduation gives them the chance to celebrate their accomplishments as their authentic selves with people who support and accept those identities.”

  Abbi Gierer, senior special education student and former Prism president, was this year’s speaker at the graduation.

  “I loved Lavender Graduation this year, I think it is a great way for us to honor our graduates in a way that they can be recognized in a safe space and celebrate all of their identities as well,” Gierer said.