Last Thursday, 200 Springfield College students went through their daily routine, walking to classes, eating at Cheney with their friends and any other extracurricular activities as they normally would. Yet on this day, these 200 strong made a statement by wearing particular shirts that sported the words “I’m An Ally” in support of the Pride Alliance’s first annual Ally Day on the Springfield College campus.
“I thought [Ally Day] was really well received on campus,” said Katie Patrick, Pride Alliance president. “A lot of people came up to me and said that this was a really great event and that they’re proud that we’re doing something like this. People kept asking for shirts, so I think a lot of people wanted to get involved that didn’t get a chance to.”
The shirts in question were maroon with the aforementioned on the front, with a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, on the back that read “The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.”
Yet the shirts were in short supply for good reason. The Alliance decided on only 200 shirts to roughly represent 10 percent of the entire student body on campus. This 10 percent, Alliance co-founder and advisor Eddie Grace said, was to represent much more.
“During Ally Day, about one in 10 people were wearing an Ally Day shirt, and if someone saw a friend wearing a shirt, it represents a friend or a peer that could be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT),” said Grace. “This is the only minority status that you can mask. You can’t hide being black. You can’t hide being disabled in most instances, but you can never truly identify with your [sexual] status if you don’t want to or don’t feel safe or comfortable doing it. It makes it unique compared to other minority issues.”
Grace and Patrick also decided on the one in 10 percentage of students based upon the idea that it is as common to meet someone who identifies as LGBT as it is meeting someone who is left-handed, which is also a one in 10 chance.
While the number of shirts wasn’t resounding, the message was: there are students at Springfield that support those of the LGBT community, and that the Pride Alliance is for everyone.
“I did see a lot of people wearing the shirts, and everyone who was wearing a shirt saw another person wearing a shirt and would give them a nod to recognize that they’re all supporting the same thing,” said Patrick Rojas, a freshman member of the Pride Alliance. “I think it’s important, even for people who don’t identify as LGBT, just to support the cause.”
Yet although there were those who took part in Ally Day, there is the thought that more can be done to break down barriers on the SC campus. “I think that at Springfield College, it is easier to be a homosexual woman than it is to be a gay man. I think that we are a highly athleticised campus and that in sports, you are expected to act and be a certain way, and it’s harder to break that mold than it is to just break the mold in a more normal setting or a different setting,” said Grace.
“I think that Ally Day shows that there are people that support LGBT and fairness, equality and all of that stuff. I think that on this campus people don’t realize that if they’re feeling certain ways, if they’re questioning, if they are sure they are LGBT, I don’t think they realize that it’s OK. I think they feel that it’s not, and I think that today shows that people care in a positive way.”
With one successful Ally Day come and gone, the Pride Alliance is looking forward to next year, where they will have another 200 shirts to sell in support of the event. “I’m really excited that this is now kind of an annual thing and more people will be interested in it,” said Katie Patrick. “Instead of having 200 people wear shirts, we’re going to have [around] 400, or any number, but an increase [in support] is always good.”
Nate Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org