The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services and the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Change (IDEAS) will host the inaugural “Valentines Gay” LGBTQ pride prom from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 22 in Clark Lounge.
This dance, which was organized by Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) campus ambassadors and Ithaca College seniors Elena Piech and Avery Santiago, will allow students of all gender and sexual orientations to come together and dance the night away while celebrating their respective identities. This event is free to the public, and people can come as dressed up or dressed down as they like, Santiago said.
As GLAAD campus ambassadors for the college, part of Piech and Santiago’s roles are to organize events that support the LGBT Center and students in the LGBTQ community, as well as promote GLAAD through media campaigns. Santiago said she was inspired to create this event because she felt it will provide an opportunity to allow students in the LGBTQ community to feel more included. She also said it allows people in the LGBTQ community to get together for a positive reason.
“On campus, we seem to find that the only time the LGBTQ community gets together is when an awful event arises or something happens,” Santiago said. “We just thought, ‘Why can’t we get together on a happy occasion? Why not just get together to have fun and be in a place where you can exist and just have a good time overall?’”
Though this event is sponsored by the LGBT Center and Center for IDEAS, Piech and Santiago were the masterminds behind planning the event. With funds contributed by both centers, GLAAD and their own pockets, they designed posters, recruited a DJ and a photographer, booked Clark Lounge and will decorate it with Valentine’s Day-themed decor.
Luca Maurer, the director of the LGBT Center, was first approached by Santiago and Piech with the idea for a pride prom when they realized that an event like this did not take place last year. He said he was very interested in sponsoring this initiative because it will benefit LGBTQ students by allowing them to form connections with other people who have similar identities.
“There’s a whole bunch of negative health things that can happen to LGBTQ students because of social isolation, and so with events like this, there is a direct connection between students’ healths in all aspects and their ability to succeed academically,” Maurer said.
Geselle Dominguez, administrative assistant for Center for IDEAS, said that having this event is important because it provides a safe and fun environment for people who may feel alienated or marginalized because of their sexual or gender orientations.
“One of our goals as a new center is to help foster a sense of belonging to all students through campus-wide programming and collaborations, and this dance provides just that,” Dominguez said. “We believe helping to give the community access to a space in which their sexual, romantic and gender identities are celebrated, rather than invalidated, tends to the overall well-being of our community and speaks to our mission to empower.”