October is LGBTQ+ History Month — a time to celebrate the history and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual people. Clark student organizations and University offices, led by the Office of Identity, Student Engagement, and Access (ISEA), are planning events and activities to honor the lives and stories of the LGBTQIA+ community, beginning with “A Night of Glitz and Glam” on Friday, Oct. 6.
“We recognize the importance of celebrating the history, culture, and rich experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially at a time when there is an uptick nationally in state legislation targeting our rights and mere existence in this country,” said E. Tejada III, associate director of gender and sexuality for ISEA. “As we’ve surveyed our first-year students in the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in them identifying as queer or gender diverse, from 40% to 50%. As such, it is important that we honor their lives and experiences, making a statement as an institution: ‘We see you, and you are enough.’”
The month’s kickoff event will feature two of Worcester’s most popular drag performers, Victoria Obvious and DaishaDore Famouz. The executive board of Choices, a student group, will serve mocktails, and all donations will go to local organizations that support queer youth in the area. This event is open to the entire Clark Community and to the public.
In addition to sponsoring LGBTQ+ History Month events, the Office of Identity, Student Engagement, and Access facilitates several support groups and discussion groups for members of the LGBTQ+ community at Clark, including the Trans and Gender Diverse Support and Discussion Group and Queer and Trans Students of Color affinity space.
Tejada came to Clark in June 2022, filling a newly created position at the University. “With the creation of the associate director role and the efforts we’ve made throughout the course of the last year, our hope is that students, and the community at large, are beginning to feel an impact,” they said.
ISEA’s website has a dedicated page highlighting LGBTQ+ resources available at Clark, as well as information about queer history at the University.
Founded in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, the first openly gay public school teacher in Missouri, LGBTQ+ History Month is celebrated in October because the month includes the anniversaries of the first and second LGBT marches on Washington (1979 and 1987), as well as National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11, the anniversary of the 1987 march).