UC Merced’s Pride Week kicks off March 28.
The weeklong celebration is hosted by Lambda Alliance and LGBTQ+ Initiatives in the Office of Student Life. It’s a collaborative effort to affirm the LGBT+ community by providing recreational, social and support services, and learning opportunities to continue fostering a positive campus climate.
“Pride Week is a celebration of identity and expression,” said Andre Frise, vice president for Lambda Alliance, a support group for undergraduate students who identify within the LGBT+ and ally community. “Many individuals come to this diverse campus without a lot exposure to the LGBT+ community. We like to use Pride Week as a platform to engage that learning opportunity and, overall, celebrate diversity.”
This year’s theme, “Love in Color,” symbolizes LGBT+ pride. Events each day of the week correlate with colors of the rainbow and that color’s significance within the LGBT+ community. For example, Monday’s events represent the first color of the rainbow: red, meaning life.
There are several firsts in this year’s pride celebration, and the Pride Parade at 12:30 p.m. March 28 is one of them. Students and staff and faculty members will gather at the Half Dome Quad near the Summits Marketplace and make their way up Scholars Lane.
The parade wraps up in front of the Kolligian Library at the start of the fourth annual Pride Carnival, from 1 to 4 p.m. Carnival games and food will be interspersed with information tables hosted by on- and off-campus collaborators providing resources supporting the LGBT+ cause.
Another event is the Gender Inclusive Treasure Hunt on March 30. The campus’s Gender Inclusive Facilities Committee, which includes staff members and students, is working to ensure that every building on campus has the required number of gender-inclusive bathrooms per UC systemwide policy.
Treasure hunt participants will meet in front of the library between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The goal is to find gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus and take a selfie with the signage at each one to win a prize.
The campus community is invited to mingle at the Lavender Student, Faculty and Staff Unite event from noon to 1 p.m. March 30 outside the Student Services Building breezeway. The event, hosted by LGBTQ+ Initiatives, aims to provide mentoring opportunities to help ensure students and employees feel supported, welcomed and celebrated on campus.
On International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, transgender advocate and musician Ryan Cassata will speak. Cassata became internationally known after the release of the documentary “Gender Rebel,” which followed his transition process in 2005.
The event, devoted to trans awareness, will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Wallace-Dutra Amphitheater on campus. Immediately following, individuals can celebrate their individuality through dance, spoken word, music and more at the Express Yourself: Life in Colors art performance.
Also new for Pride Week is the LGBTQ+ Initiatives’ Building Community Awards on April 1. The award ceremony will recognize contributions of nominees who are active participants in improving the climate of diversity and inclusion for LGBT+ people at UC Merced. The event will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the California Room.
UC Merced's 10th annual drag show kicks off at 7 p.m. April 2 in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium. The Fabulosity: Diamond Jubilee Drag Show gives members of the Merced community the chance to see the art of performing in drag.
“I think building a celebratory campus climate is extremely fundamental for all identity groups on campus to truly feel like this university supports them,” Frise said.
More Pride Week events are posted online.