Ellynn Mayo | @ELLYNNSPEAKS
Pride Month, which is usually held in June, starts April 1 here at the University of Kansas — the reason being that many students aren’t on campus for the summer. Now as a non-binary, panromantic, and ace-spectrum student, I love Pride!
But it’s my freshman year, and experiencing Gaypril for the first time (in a global pandemic) is that much more exciting. I grew up not celebrating Pride at all until I got to attend once in my junior year of high school.
Last year’s Pride month in July was spent behind closed doors. This was a big blow for the KCMO Pride Fest, which had just moved to Ilus Davis Park and City Hall. Kansas City hasn’t had a Pride Parade since 2002 (consequently, the year I was born) because its cost.
Lawrence has a developing story. As recently as 2018, the Granada started holding what’s known as Pride for the Masses. There was a small parade, and then the Granada invited queer artists to perform. Of course, its third year was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns as well.
I won’t speak for all queer people, but for me, Pride is important because it’s an outward expression of my identity that I don’t always get to have everywhere else. If I hold hands with a girl in public, I get the occasional catcalls from men who fetishize queer couples. Or I get a grumpy adult calling me “obscene” or “scandalous.”
Pride is a time for LGBTQ+ people to be surrounded by other people who share their identities, or who are allies for them. It’s a safe place. It’s a freeing place. So the impact of the pandemic has not only been stifling socially but also in terms of identity validation. That’s why KU’s Gaypril is such a reprieve for me — I get to celebrate my identity with other people my age, with my identity.
This year, the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity (aka the Center) has a full lineup of Gaypril events.
The Center had a drive-in showing of “Paris Is Burning” on April 10 in the Lied Center parking lot. The film explicates the history of Voguing and of trans pride. These topics, in particular, are so important, especially now that we’ve had limited interactions with LGBTQ+ Pride.
The Big Gay Brunch will be today, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with offerings for vegans (like me!), vegetarians, and those who require gluten-free options. I don’t know if there’s anything straighter than brunch, so personally, this is a fantastic idea. We’re here, we’re queer, and we eat brunch! In all seriousness though, food is one of the most common ways we as humans connect socially, so I truly can’t wait for this event.
There’s also a Queer Coffee Hour from 11-noon on April 20. I’d recommend getting there early because seats fill up fast!
If you or any Jayhawks you know are graduating and identify as part of the LGBQT+ community, be sure to attend Lavender Graduation on April 22 at 5 p.m. (virtually). This is a beautiful way to honor queer and trans folks at the university who have put in the work and can finally celebrate their accomplishments!
And last, but certainly not least, we have Brown Bag Drive-In Drag, also held in the Lied Center parking lot. Tipping is digital, but the queens are not! I know I can’t wait for this event on April 24. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 8:30. I’m drag-ging my friends to see this show with me. For more info on these events, go to the Center’s Events page.
I’m sure most people — certainly most queer people — have seen the recent anti-trans laws cropping up in the media. These laws include things like banning trans girls from girls’ sports, banning gender-affirming care for youth, including hormone blockers, which are not permanent, and requiring teachers to out trans children to their parents. These laws are scary for the LGBTQ+ community.
The best thing we can do at a time like this is to find community. That’s why it’s so important to go to these events, to share them, to talk about them. Even if you don’t go personally, expressing support for your queer peers can help one person feel less frightened and alone.
So I hope to see some Jayhawks at the drag show or sipping a mocktail at the Union in the coming weeks. Remember, you are loved.