Kendall Campus’ Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Week kicks off April 6.
The event will feature a free photo booth, tie-dying with chemistry professor Larry Mailloux, a debate on gay rights issues between the Miami Dade College debate team and the Irish National Debate team and music by DJ Vitto.
For Ricardo Roque, a psychology major and president of the Pride Club at Kendall Campus, Pride Week events are more than fun. It’s meant to express unity and mutual respect for those who are different.
“It’s a step toward a future where non-heteronormative things like homosexuality are not seen as controversial, morally wrong, religiously condemning,” Roque said. “ I may not be gay, but I know what it is to feel that pain [of discrimination]. The rejections and animosity is hard punishment to take.”
Roque felt the sting in elementary school. He played with dolls and girls. His classmates physically attacked him and shunned him.
“That day I was so confused, ashamed, and hurt,” Roque recalled. “Not physically but emotionally, I was in pain. I remember that I was so ashamed.”
So when psychology professor Jose Guntin asked Roque to establish the Pride Club he took on the responsibility. The club now has 27 members. The mission of the organization is to spread awareness and tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community. They meet every Thursday at 2 p.m. inside the Koffeehouse in Room 103. Students who wish to join can sign up through sharknet.mdc.edu
Wolfson is the only other MDC campus with a Pride Club.
Amy Lund, professor of the Arts and Philosophy department at Kendall Campus and co-chair of the Pride Week committee believes this to be the first LGBTQ+ Pride Week in the Campus’ 40 year history.
Speakers over the week include Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City—the country’s largest and best-known gay synagogue, Houston R. Cypress of the Miccosukee Tribe, Professor Jo Trigilio of Simmons College and Gil Mozer of the University of Miami’s English Department. A drag show dance performance by dance department professor Michelle Grant-Murray and the Jubilation Dance Ensemble will feature local artist Lucky Bruno.
The Yes! Institute is sponsoring a campus dialog on gender and orientation just for MDC students at 12 p.m. on April 8 in Room 6120. Organizers say it will be a safe place for students to share their experiences. Many professors at MDC are also offering extra-credit opportunities during Pride week for their students.
The Pride Club’s parade around campus will be at noon on April 6 to highlight the One Family picnic and kickoff-events. Organizers encourage LGBTQ+ students and allies to join in.
“There is a group of faculty around the college who wanted to establish an official celebration of LGBTQ+ individuals and their histories,” Lund said. “We felt as though a celebration of LGBTQ+ rights and histories was an important opportunity that our students were using in their education.”
The event is not a college-sponsored event, and is not even on the Kendall Campus’ official calendar. It is entirely sponsored by the United Faculty of Miami Dade College.
MDC is not listed on the Campus Pride Index, an outside group that rates campuses on inclusiveness and respect of LGBTQ+ people. The Index rates higher education institutions on policies of inclusion, support and institutional commitment, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts.
“In my classes they seem open minded about same-sex marriage and people making choices for themselves,” Lund said. “But I do also see that there is some harassment going on.”
Roque said he does not see gay shaming or bullying at MDC.
“The fact that we did not have a Pride Club until recently and that MDC itself has not really celebrated Pride Week before leaves much to be desired,” Roque said.
Lund said the Pride Week Committee is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ students and employees feel supported, welcomed and celebrated at MDC.
On April 9 from 12:45-1:45 the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten will speak about political issues in education.
“The fight to establish LGBTQ+ rights is one of the most important civil rights movements of our times,” Lund said. “The progress our country has made in securing rights for LGBTQ+ individuals and the fight for basic civil rights [is important]. Like many unions, our union has a history of supporting historically important civil rights movements, and they are happy to provide support for education about the LGBTQ+ movement.”
To Roque, Pride Week symbolizes unity and mutual respect. He hopes Pride Week makes it safer for LGBTQ+ people.
“A future where people won’t be abandoned, bullied, beaten, ridiculed, or pushed to suicide for being who they are,” said Roque.
For more information about Pride Week events contact professor Amy Lund, Philosophy and Logic (305) 237-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.