Rainbow reception kicks off LGBTQ+ History Month

Rebecca Denham, News Editor

Founded in 1994, LGBTQ+ History Month has been an established annual tradition for 25 years. NEIU kicked off this year’s history month with the Rainbow Reception at the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

This event functioned as not only an icebreaker for a month of activities planned in honor of LGBTQ+ history, but also for students to convene and interact with other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The introduction was led by Francis Ahn, graduate aide to the Pedroso Center and student advisor to the Pride Alliance at NEIU, who spoke to the heritage of LGBTQ+ history and why its representation is necessary.

“LGBTQ+ history month, done well, does two important things. It lets queer and questioning individuals understand they are not alone, that there have been trailblazers before them, that there are people in the queer community and allies who are dedicated to undoing the erasure of our identities,” he said.

“On the flip side it challenges those, even the many people who do not consider themselves homophobic, to reconsider their previous biases,” Ahn continued.

On Thursday, Oct. 10 are the National Coming Out Day and Domestic Violence Awareness Month Resource Fair. The fair will be held from 1 p.m. through 4 p.m. in the University Commons.
Dear Aunaetitrakul, the Pedroso Center’s assistant director for gender and sexuality, stated why this history month is so important at NEIU.

“We need to enhance the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community at Northeastern. We need allies to engage in critical conversations on LGBTQ+ student success, on issues such as all-gender restroom and Preferred First Name Policy,” Aunaetitrakul said.

Another event that will be hosted at the Pedroso Center is the LGBTQ+ coming out support group that will be on Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 3 to 4 p.m. “Not everyone is going to be as open about their identities, and they should not have to, but unless a person is, how would one know where to start finding those other people,” said Ahn. “This is part of why it is so important for the month to have social events as well as educational.”

There are several other opportunities to get involved with the Pride Alliance and with this history month. “I am excited about a lot of programs, particularly LGBTQ+ Rise and Pride Week. We will be giving out pronoun buttons on Oct. 16 from 1 p.m. through 3p.m. in the center as part of the International Pronouns Day,” said Aunaetitrakul.

“We are also hosting the Boystown Legacy Walk Tour on that day as well. We are meeting at the Center on Halstead at 5 p.m. to kick off the tour,” she continued. While this event is free to attend, it is the only one this month that requires pre-registration. Information on how to register can be found on the Pedroso Center page of the NEIU website.

The Pride Alliance is hosting a LGBTQ+ 101 workshop at the El Centro campus and is inviting all students to wear purple on Thursday, Oct. 17 for Spirit Day on all campuses. They are also hosting a Pride College Prep conference for LGBTQ+ high school students. It will be held on Friday, Oct. 25 at the El Centro campus.

“NEIU, like all colleges, is a place people come to understand more about themselves, about others and building new communities. The best way to do so is to meet with other people who one can seek to consider and understand both familiar and unfamiliar. But when it comes to gender and sexual identity, this can be a difficult conversation,” said Ahn.

He also noted that he “doesn’t know anyone who works at Pedroso that isn’t ready to have students walk in and chat about their needs. Maybe not all of us can help directly with what’s going on, but we will try our hardest to get a student to the right place.”

The final event for the history month is a lecture named LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence: Innovations in Survivor Services, Policies and Research. It will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at the Pedroso Center.

“We need everyone’s help in bringing the LGBTQ+ visibility on campus. For example, NEIU at the main campus now has three all-gender bathrooms available after 5pm. LGBTQ+ History Month serves as an entry point for people to engage and learn more about the community,” insisted Aunaetitrakul.

Aunaetitrakul concluded her message by saying, “students interested in joining Pride Alliance can reach out to me. We meet every Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room B-146.”