While most of Springfield College will naturally dress themselves in something maroon and white each day without as much as a second glance, 200 strong will be wearing maroon and white today with a purpose.
The Springfield College Pride Alliance is holding its first annual Ally Day, during which volunteers will sport a t-shirt that reads, “Proud to Say I’m An Ally” with a rainbow triangle placed just underneath the wording. [At the end of the day, there will be an open forum meeting in the Dodge Ballroom in the Student Union at 6:00 p.m. where anyone interested will be able to gather and discuss their thoughts on the day itself.]
“Ally Day is a visible way for someone to say, ‘I’m here and I support you,’ because I think that we don’t have a lot of visuals on campus saying that we support people that are different,” said Pride Alliance president Katie Patrick. “I think that you should support people regardless of their sexual orientation for equality and fair treatment.”
Formed only earlier this academic year, the Pride Alliance was formed to raise awareness of the issues that members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community on-campus face daily. The Pride Alliance has already made its presence known on the Springfield College campus, as it co-hosted musician Jennifer Knapp in December alongside of Campus Ministry and Spiritual Life. Knapp spoke about her faith, her music and how her coming out as a lesbian in 2010 has helped shape who she is today.
“We’re putting on our first [individual] event, which is an event, but also a visibility stunt for the group,” said Edward Grace, co-founder of the Pride Alliance. “Hopefully, after this, people will know we exist and are here to make things better and support anyone that needs to be supported.”
Yet, the Pride Alliance is not about labeling or attempting to point out differences. The club is open to all sexual orientations in the hopes that everyone can work together to show that they care for those that face discrimination.
“We’re totally label free,” said Grace. “You don’t have to be an LGBT person to be in the organization. In fact, we would love if there were a lot of people that weren’t because that would mean that they were supporting things.”
The Pride Alliance already has other ideas in the works, as they hope to have a Day of Silence in April to try and help quiet the use of derogatory terms towards those of the LGBT community. For now, though, the alliance is focused on the event at hand, as they hope it will encourage others to join the cause of increasing insight for the main purpose of the day at hand.
“I want to see 200 people wearing t-shirts, showing that they support people for who they are, not what they identify as,” said Patrick. “It’s a very powerful movement because I think that a lot of people feel like they may not be supported, and it’s a very vocal thing to say, ‘I’m an Ally.’”
Nate Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org