Students+walk+through+NKU%27s+campus+to+celebrate+Pride+Week.

Billy Keeney

Students walk through NKU's campus to celebrate Pride Week.

How NKU is celebrating Pride Week digitally

Several of NKU’s annual events will be online

April 13, 2020

Even though campus is closed, NKU’s Office of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services is still finding ways to celebrate Pride Week digitally with a series of online events. 

The director of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services and two student organization leaders shared their thoughts on an exclusively digital pride week and how they’re celebrating while staying indoors.

What does pride week mean to you?

Bonnie Meyer, Director of LGBTQ+ Programs & Services: “Pride Week is one of my favorite events of the year. Planning a Pride Week was one of the first tasks I took on when coming into this role as the founding director of the office. It has been a joy to watch Pride Week grow and evolve over the last 7 years … Right before Covid-19 forced restrictions into our lives, we learned that NKU had finally achieved a five-star rating on the Campus Pride Index. 

The Campus Pride Index is a national assessment that colleges and universities can use to assess LGBTQ inclusion, and a five-star rating is the highest a university can achieve. This was a seven-year effort in the making and included so many partners over the years. NKU is one of only 38 institutions in the country to achieve a five-star rating, so we were looking forward to celebrating this after our pride march on campus today. 

The beautiful visibility of the LGBTQA+ community and their allies during this week is something I look forward to all year. Though we are meeting virtually, I’m still looking forward to catching some of that beauty this week.”

Isabel Sleczkowski, President of Lavender Society: “Pride Week to me is an important reminder of the community we have, regardless of what’s going on. We have survived so much as a community, and we always have each other, even when we are physically apart.”

Ray Archer, President of Friends of Dorothy: “To me, pride week is a time to really be a visible community on campus! We have LGBTQ+ students in organizations all across campus, but pride week is a time for us to really be out and proud of who we are and the community we belong to!”

How are you, personally, celebrating pride week during self-isolation?

BM: “I am personally celebrating pride week during quarantine by working hard to find ways to pull folks together in any way they feel comfortable participating. I plan to share photos and memories of past pride weeks throughout the week, as well as provide some thoughts on how we can continue to celebrate pride even when we are apart. I’m also looking forward to annoying my pup and forcing her online as often as possible in her rainbow costume.”

IS: “Personally, I will be engaging in all of the NKU Pride Week activities, and celebrating with my girlfriend (she lives with me, don’t worry!)”

RA: “I’m actually getting to start pride week off with a testosterone shot, so that’s really appropriate, haha! I’m planning to attend all of the online celebrations scheduled through the LGBTQ+ P&S Offices, and I’m really excited for what they bring!”

Why is it still important to celebrate pride week during this time?

BM: “We must come together to show our LGBTQA+ community, especially our students, that we are still here. It is more important than ever to stay connected to our community throughout this time so that we are able to each other. LGBTQA+ people experience unique challenges that only other LGBTQA+ people can relate to. NKU is known as a campus where LGBTQA+ people can thrive. Pride Week provides us all something to look forward to, as we support each other and continue our efforts around LGBTQA+ equity and inclusion.”

IS: “If anything, I think it’s more important than ever to celebrate right now. Many of the LGBT students at NKU are now at homes where they are forced in the closet, or otherwise away from the community we have at NKU. It’s so important to remind each other that we are here for one another.”

RA: “Community is always really important,  but especially when we can’t physically be together. As a campus community, it definitely makes it harder to not be able to see each other, especially when some of our students are in homes that aren’t supportive or safe places to be out. An online pride week gives all students a way to connect and celebrate, but it also gives those in unsupportive homes a way to feel connected and a part of a group. It’s a great way to spread love and pride, two things we all need right now.”

How are you staying connected with the LGBTQ+ community on campus during this time, and why do you think it’s important to do so? What are some things you’ve done to move your club online?

BM: “Since moving remotely, I’ve continued to meet with students regularly via Zoom, FB messenger, and telephone. The LGBTQ Ambassadors and I meet weekly as a group, and I am continuing to meet with them all individually as well as our LGBTQA+ student org leaders. I have daily open Zoom hours for anyone who would like to chat.  I am also planning weekly programming to extend beyond Pride Week and through the summer months, including movie nights, open mic nights, and a virtual pride celebration throughout the month of June with guest speakers.”

IS: “For my org, Lavender Society, we’ve moved online through zoom meetings and a discord, as well as virtual watch parties. With students being forced back into the closet, I want straight allies to know it’s really important to check on their LGBT+ friends. I would also encourage everyone to participate in the Pride Week activities to show support, even if they themselves don’t identify as LGBT+.”

RA: “I try to check in on the members of Friends of Dorothy regularly and keep in touch. We also try to get together and play games to keep things light and get our minds off the stresses of every day life. We also have weekly meetings for the LGBTQ+ ambassadors so Bonnie can check in on us and hear from our members through us. FoD (Friends of Dorothy) has a lot of social media pages already, but we created a Discord server specifically to help us stay connected during the pandemic shutdown. Discord allows us to voice chat and text chat, in addition to “screen share” multiplayer games and play together.”

Which of the online events are you most looking forward to?

BM: “I’m looking forward to all of the events as they provide opportunities to engage with our community. I can’t wait to see all the signs of support through our “Post Your Pride” social media event. We will share all of the posts next week. Tuesday’s event is for NKU LGBTQA+ current students only, as it is a combined student org meeting. Folks can register by emailing lgbtq@nku.edu. I believe Wednesday’s conversation will be helpful as community and campus partners, LGBTQA+ student leaders, and LGBTQA+ alumni come together to discuss supporting LGBTQA+ students through a time of quarantine.”

IS: “I’m really looking forward to our big group meeting for members of Lavender Society, Common Ground, Friends of Dorothy, and The Gender Initiative.”

RA: “I’m looking forward to everything this week, but if I had to choose, I’d probably go with the ally training scheduled for Friday! I regularly panel for the ally trainings, but I’m excited to see how the online ally training goes!”

On Monday, LGBTQ+ Programs & Services is asking students to show off their pride on social media. Post a picture of yourself in pride gear to social media with the hashtags  #LGBTQNKU #NKUPrideWeek #NKUHealthyAtHome and #NorsePride. Ten participants will be randomly selected to win a gift.

Tuesday, a Zoom call meeting on “Celebrating Pride and Staying Connected to Community” hosted by Lavender Society, Friends of Dorothy, Common Ground, and The Gender Initiative will take place from 4 – 5 p.m. Students can email lgbtq@nku.edu to join.

Wednesday, “Q-Chat: Supporting LGBTQA+ Students During Covid-19” hosted by LGBTQ Office Staff & Ambassadors and the organization SAFE will take place on Zoom from 3 – 4 p.m. at https://nku.zoom.us/j/943752039.

Thursday, NKU’s annual Take Back The Night event, which educates audiences on how to stop sexual assault, will be hosted by Norse Violence Prevention from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required at http://eventbrite.com/e/take-back-the-night-northern-kentucky-university-tickets-101555880372

RELATED: Rachael Denhollander takes back the night

Friday, the Office of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services will host Allied Zone Training, where participants will learn terminology, policies and best practices, discuss how to be a good ally and hear from a panel of LGBTQ+ students. Pre-registration is required; students, faculty and staff can email lgbtq@nku.edu to join.

 

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