Multiple special programs organized by Ferris State University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ+) Resource Center began in early October and continued into November to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month.
LGBTQ+ Resource Center Coordinator Sarah Doherty said some of the key efforts included outreach in and around National Coming Out Day, Monday, Oct. 11.
“I was outside the University Center Monday through Wednesday afternoons, moving on Thursday, Oct. 14 to the Kendall College of Art and Design,” Doherty said. “Anyone who wanted one could receive a pride flag and printed materials on issues of LGBTQ+ inclusion and coming out issues. I also took Pride Polaroid photos for anyone who wanted one.”
Doherty said that the LGBTQ+ Resource Center followed by presenting its inaugural Gender Exploration and Trans Closet Showcase/Extravaganza, Friday, Oct. 15, on the Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson Quad.
“We had large tents for this activity, with more than 50 people stopping by to pick up free gender-affirming clothing and other tools,” Doherty said. “This was a great opportunity to reach out, celebrate and affirm LGBTQ+ people, identities, and communities, which is a primary objective of our center.”
Mid-month events on the LGBTQ+ Resource Center’s schedule included a screening of “Sins Invalid: An Unashamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility,” presented by Zoom Tuesday, Oct. 19, and a Zoom gathering Wednesday, Oct. 20 with Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson, focused on her research into the history of transgender youth.
“We collaborated with the KCAD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the college’s Student Engagement Office, for the screening,” Doherty said. “Dr. Gill-Peterson explained to us that medical gatekeeping and racism established in the 1950s affects how people understand and talk about transgender lives and bodies and childhoods today.”
Doherty said the LGBTQ+ Resource Center has a common weekly schedule of events and emphasized LGBTQ history throughout October. In addition, Doherty was thankful for the willingness of campus leaders to collaborate with and take part in activities like their drop-in Coffeehouse program, held Wednesday afternoons.
“We welcomed in Raven Hills, the director of Ferris’ Anti-Violence Alliance and Office of Multicultural Student Services Director Danyelle Gregory,” Doherty said. “Michele Albright, from the Center for Career and Professional Success, will join us for the final session on Oct. 27. I love working with our campus partners.”
Doherty said their collaborations continue Sunday, Oct. 31, as the LGBTQ+ Resource Center joins with the university’s Office of Housing and Residence Life and the Center for Student Involvement in presenting the “Rocky Horror Picture Show Cabaret,” at 7 p.m. in the University Center ballroom.
“This is part of ‘Flannel and Frights,’ four nights of entertainment the CSI has arranged, to emphasize non-alcoholic activity, so this will be a full blown ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ presentation, with props used in traditional fan rituals, for a showing of the film,” Doherty said. “Dr. Càel Keegan is a local scholar our center is bringing in for a ten-minute introductory presentation before the screening.
Keegan returns to campus on Wednesday, Nov. 3, for a longer presentation on transgender film history, with a question-and-answer session as part of his talk. We are grateful for his willingness to contribute to Flannel and Frights and to cap our LGBTQ+ History Month programming.”
Doherty noted that all guest speaker presentations are available on the LGTBQ+ Resource Center YouTube channel, following each event.
A Missouri high school teacher established LGBTQ+ History Month in 1994. Observances occur in the U.S., Canada and Australia in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 and gay rights marches in Washington, which occurred in 1979 and 1987.