The Office of BGLTQ Student Life, in partnership with other campus organizations, has expanded Harvard’s Pride Week into Pride Month in order to increase its thematic scope and impact on students.
Throughout the month of April, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life has facilitated an event series, entitled Harvard Pride ’14, centered on queer issues and student life. Campus organizations—including Queer Students and Allies, the queer Jewish student group BAGELS, and the Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality—organized and sponsored individual events.
“We found that only providing programming in a week limited the opportunities for students to engage in community,” Director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life Vanidy “Van” Bailey wrote in an email, adding that a single week limited the range of topics discussed.
According to Bailey, this sentiment led to the decision by the Office of BGLTQ Student Life to increase both the duration of Pride ’14 and the number of campus organizations it partnered with for Pride Month’s programming.
“Students being at the center of the work is key to my vision as the director and empowering the community to collaborate in that vision is critical,” Bailey wrote. “[The Office of BGLTQ Student Life] facilitated a collaborative program planning process that involved students, staff, faculty, prospective students, and [alumni].”
In this vein,“Get Wet: An Orgasm Seminar,” an event on Saturday which featured discussions on vaginal orgasms and free sex toys, was part of both Harvard Pride ’14 and Sex Weekend. The latter is a series of events about sex organized by the student group Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Throughout Harvard College as a spring preview to Sex Week in the fall.
Board member of SHEATH Kirin Gupta ’16 said she believes that partnerships with groups like the Office of BGLTQ Life are critical because they allow conversations about important issues like sex to specifically address gender and diversity.
“It has to be an inclusive dialogue that we have with everybody on campus who has any sort of stake in the issue,” Gupta said. She called these partnerships an “evolving process.”
According to Co-Chair of QSA Neimy K. Escobar ’15, although Harvard Pride existed prior to the founding of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life in spring 2012, it was organized largely by student groups such as the QSA. Escobar said she believes the organizational limitations of these groups partly explain why Harvard Pride had been limited to a week’s duration in the past.
Escobar said she is glad to see Harvard Pride happen again this year.
“I think there’s never enough conversations about a lot of things, and I think specifically highlighting certain months or certain weeks or certain events is a really great way to get the conversation out to a lot of people,” she said.
Joshua D. Blecher-Cohen ’16, co-chair of the Queer Advisory Council, which funded some of the events of Harvard Pride ’14, said the joint efforts of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life and its partners resulted in “a huge calendar of events—from film screenings to panels to plays—that reflect the diversity of queer life at Harvard.”
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