Maroon shirts are a common sight on the campus of Springfield College, but the 300 shirts sported on Oct. 3 held a special meaning to the members of the Pride Alliance. The shirts were handed out to students for Ally Day, the Pride Alliance’s annual day to raise awareness for actively supporting the oppressed, particularly the LGBT community.
“A lot of people say that they’re an ally, and I think that a lot of people on this campus are, but it’s a little bit different to really put that out there and put on a T-shirt so people can see you and say, ‘Oh, you support that?’” Eddie Grace, the advisor of the Pride Alliance, said. “People don’t have those conversations, so hopefully this will facilitate a reason for people to have those.”
LGBT stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” which is a group of people that has often faced discrimination and oppression for simply being themselves. Last year, the Pride Alliance wanted to raise awareness and educate people about supporting this group, so they came up with the idea of creating one day during the school year to promote awareness.
“There’s still a lot of ways in which LGBT people are oppressed, and there’s a lot of improvements that we can make in the ways that society treats folks,” Elizabeth Morgan, a member of the partnering Gay-Straight Alliance and an assistant professor of psychology, said. “I think that raising awareness [and] educating people is a really great way for people to make their own decisions and also to learn about this population and to make changes where we can treat everyone equally.”
Last year, the Pride Alliance used the day to hand out free T-shirts to promote their cause. They continued that again this year, handing out all 300 shirts before 12 p.m. The shirts said “Proud to Say I’m an Ally!” on the front and contained a quote from Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, on the back. It read, “No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.”
Morgan also added a new spin on the second annual Ally Day this year by leading an interactive presentation at 12 p.m. in the Dodge Ballroom. Morgan’s presentation was titled, “What does it mean to be an ally?”
“It’s a workshop to help people learn more about how to be a good ally,” Morgan said.
Morgan first had the audience get into groups and match a term, such as sexual prejudice, gender expression and homosexual, to its definition on note cards. They then went over the terms so that everyone had a basic knowledge of what Morgan was talking about.
Next, Morgan went into the history and experiences of LGBT people and some different rights and laws, again using an interactive handout to get the attendees involved.
To finish her presentation, Morgan went over some ways to actively work against oppression, and how to be a better ally.
“It’s [an ally] someone who actively works against oppression. So someone who is actively trying to stop harassment, other sorts of denial of rights, that sort of thing,” Morgan said. “It’s someone who is actively trying to make the world a more just place for all people.”
Grace does not believe that the SC community is against LBGT’s, but he feels that the support is very individualized. By giving out T-shirts that are worn around campus, it shows widespread support for those who might feel alone and oppressed. This day is not the climax, however, but just a reminder that the SC community as a whole should be allies all year round.
“Obviously one day a year is not enough,” Morgan said. “It should be Ally Day every day, but I think that it provides one of many opportunities for this to continue to be a topic and provide people an opportunity to learn more, to join in [and] to be a part of something important.”
So now the question remains: are you proud to be an ally?