A poster titled “Let’s Talk” was taped to the wall in the Prince George’s Room of Stamp April 30.
The poster encouraged attendees of Pride Prom to talk about LGBTQA+ diversity, inclusion and intersectionality.
One student wrote, “Feeling increasingly uncomfortable in public restrooms that aren’t on campus.”
Another questioned, “Is the label ‘queer’ inclusive (What are alternatives)?”
UMD Pride Alliance along with MICA, this university’s unit of multicultural involvement and community advocacy, hosted Pride Prom 2016.
Pride Prom was the concluding event of MICA’s April Pride Month.
President of UMD Pride Alliance, Sam Sauter, senior environmental science and policy major, wanted Pride Prom to start a conversation among the LGBTQA+ community and allies.
“I want to discuss the queer community on campus and how we can be more inclusive … things we are doing right and things that can be improved,” Sauter said.
This year, Sauter said she wanted to keep the Pride Prom local and showcase drag performances from university students instead of bringing drag performers to events like they have in the past. The event showcased two sets of drag performance acts, a spoken word poet and down time to dance, eat and mingle.
“I hope that [attendees] just have a good time and get to see what it is that a lot of queer people are involved with … because I don’t think there’s a lot of times where people get to see drag for free,” Sauter said.
The drag performances featured several students who took the stage to showcase their own lip synced versions of various songs, movie or theatre acts. Strutting the stage in high heels, flipping wigs and ripping off clothes was almost routine in every performance.
“I just really enjoy performing and trying to entertain people at least,” said Connor Laughland, a drag performer and senior neurobiology and physiology major.
Laughland began doing drag with Satanic Mechanics, a student theatre group that performs The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Laughland had no complaints about the LGBTQA+ community at this university.
“I had no queer community until I came to Maryland as a transfer in Fall 2014, and since then, well, this is who I am now,” Laughland said. “I’ve changed pretty drastically.”
Social chair of UMD Pride Alliance, Jamaal McCray, junior theatre major, said, “I think we’re [the LGBTQA+ community] definitely underrepresented and I wish that there was a lot more word and a lot more promotion going around on campus.”
He said UMD Pride Alliance is trying to increase their social media presence and is aiming to create more events.
“There’s a lot of people who aren’t exactly out [as an LGBTQA+ person] and don’t necessarily want to come together in the community, which sucks, but there’s also people who are proud of who they are and feel comfortable coming together and creating a community … [the events] are a lot of fun and very inclusive,” he said.
Over thirty people came to Pride Prom, watching the drag performances and enjoying the music, free food and complimentary sexual protection set out on the tables.
Diamond Fisher, freshman communication major, was an attendee of the event. “I thought it looked cool, I didn’t have anyone to go with, but when I thought about it, it’s Pride [Alliance]. Everyone is nice and inclusive and happy, so I figured I could go by myself and still have fun and I made friends,” she said.
While there wasn’t a formal discussion, all of the attendees got to celebrate and discuss the diversity on campus by performing, watching, laughing, dancing or engaging with the LGBTQA+ community and its allies.
Featured Photo Credit: Just a normal table stocked with sex and candy. An assortment of items that effectively conveyed the tone of the night. (Joe Duffy/Block Reporter)
Allie Melton is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.