For those of you who may not already know, this week marks the University of Alberta’s third official Pride Week. Thanks to organizations like iSMSS, OUTreach, and The Landing, this week our university will be engaging the campus community in dozens of fun and empowering events to celebrate and support the initiatives that work to make our U an inclusive and caring environment for sexual and gender minorities.
Such events include the awesome Pride Parade that took place earlier on Tuesday (March 3, 2015) where numerous students, staff, and faculty marched in solidarity from one end of campus to the other, despite the frigid weather.
So, why might it be important that we have a Pride Week on campus?
Rather than bore you too long with my perspective on things, I would like to share some wise words from Marcin Makarewicz, a 4th year Food Business Management student.
On Monday night, in honor of UAlberta’s Pride Week and an acceptance of his own identity, Marcin courageously decided to come out as bisexual to his Facebook community.
The next morning when he checked his post, he had received the support and encouragement from over 130 friends and acquaintances (many of whom are University students).
Marcin said that although the numbers were overwhelming, the acceptance and kindness of others was not a shock. In his experience, the University has always been a welcoming place for individuals to freely be themselves.
When asked about the importance of a Pride Week on campus, Marcin explained the significance of attending a university where the entire student body can feel comfortable and accepted. To Marcin, Pride Week goes beyond tolerating difference and diversity. By celebrating it, we ensure UAlberta is a safe space for each unique individual who attends. He described that the stigma identifying with a minority gender or sexuality is a lot less obvious than one might think. Even if the face of the issue seems to diminish, it is important to have campus-wide awareness and support events that continue to chip away at the many negative mentalities that pervade.
So why participate in Pride Week?
“It’s fun!” Marcin beamed. “Join Pride Week because the atmosphere is positive and contagious. It’s not just about gay pride, but also university pride. We are part of something bigger than us, and should be proud of it.”
Marcin encourages all students to enjoy the community we are a part of. He inspires us all to celebrate the powerful impact each of us can make, especially when it comes to building our University into an environment that we should all be able to call home.
As for advice for other students who may feel isolated and identify with a gender or sexuality minority, Marcin says, “I know it’s cheesy, but try your best to be yourself and love who you are. If you don’t feel supported, know that support is out there and you aren’t alone.”
Marcin believes that this Audioslave track can explain the rest.
To be yourself is all you can do!
With this in mind, I cannot help but smile with pride seeing the rainbows and supportive atmosphere that currently surrounds our campus. I hope you do too.
To get involved in more of the events ranging from other unique (and warmer) solidarity activities, to workshops, drag shows, games, presentations, movies, and more check out the Pride Week schedule.
Don’t miss out, and let us know which events you enjoyed the most!
----About the Author
My name is Kiera and I’m a fourth year Biological Sciences student with an English minor, trying to keep life interesting. I like to consider myself a glass-half-full type, and am most at peace spending quality time with loved ones (with a little wine and cheese on hand). When I’m not trying to balance my student group with studying, I am testing out different hobbies, slowly working towards becoming a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
I am drawn to creativity and adventure, which there seems to be an abundance of amongst the U of A’s bright students. I hope to shed light on some of the inspirational individual stories that have resulted from unique campus opportunities, and also hope to encourage other students to tap into one of the many meaningful learning opportunities that are available outside of the classroom. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the U of A’s stories that make our campus community so rich with experience and opportunity.