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Pride Week celebrates LGBTQ+ community, educates the public

Rowan Lynam/Editor-in-Chief

Students, faculty and community members attended Pride Week’s Open-Mic Night at All-In Coffee Shop Tuesday night.

“I enjoyed it,” said Ben Golden, senior computer science major, about his comedy act. “I felt really nervous, definitely at first. I was definitely anxious a few times in, but I felt like overall people enjoyed it.”

Golden performed at the open-mic night in All-In Coffee shop on Tuesday, one of the many events that characterize 2016 Pride Week. The Clemson University Sexuality and Gender Alliance (recently rebranded from the Clemson Gay Straight Alliance) and English Majors Organization hosted the occasion, allowing individuals to perform poetry, songs, spoken-word and skits. Though not a requirement, LGBTQ+-focused content was encouraged. 

Golden’s own act centered on a trip to Blockbuster and how people who lack an understanding of the LGBTQ+ community attempt to speak for the community itself.

Golden himself identifies as pansexual.

“We need more LGBT people who are performing to be known … you see a whole lot of straight, white comedians broadcasting their views, and there are definitely people who do a lot of comedy within our community who aren’t really heard as much.”

Clemson University Pride Week kicked off on Sunday, April 10 with a brunch hosted by the Clemson University Sexuality and Gender Alliance (CU SAGA). The club, originally known as CGSA, announced their rebranding and new logo at the brunch. Additionally, Cooper Library presented a History of the LGBTQ+ movement Monday and Wednesday in which curators brought together information regarding the local, national and global LGBTQ+ movements. This same seminar will occur again on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thursday events include a panel discussion of “Queer Writing in the South,” and Friday marks Clemson’s fourth annual drag show. Students are said to be performing in an amateur portion, and the show features RuPaul’s Drag Race season seven star, Trixxie Mattel.

Sarah Cooper, a senior lecturer for the English department, also showed up to Tuesday’s open-mic night. 

“I came to support the queer community, the students and the facility,” said Cooper, who identifies as queer. “I think these events [during Pride Week] are important … to create voices and to have voices being heard.”

Cooper is not the only one who believes more voices from the LGBTQ+ community need to be heard. 

Shawn Knight is the graduate assistant for LGBTQ+ community development and a second year masters student in the higher education program. He says Pride Week is a celebration of the community as much as it is an opportunity to raise awareness of the issues the community faces. 

 “I don’t know if there is one particular issue, but I just think that people want to feel like there’s some form of understanding,” said Knight. “I think a lot of times this [LGBTQ+] community feels like it’s kind of a constant struggle to be around, predominantly, a group of people that is cis-gender and/or heterosexual. And what … that means for how you have to kind of explain your life to people in a different way.”

One of the issues the community is dealing with is that of gender-neutral bathrooms.

“Yeah, I think that I understand that being not a member of the trans community can be difficult for someone else to understand … I mean, I identify as cis-gendered male myself. So I had to do a lot of self-education and personal outreach,” Knight said.

Knight said that what the multicultural center and SAGA strive for the most is getting people to formulate opinions on the community based on realities rather than the perceived experiences.

“I would just encourage anyone that is feeling similarly to reach out to the multicultural center or come do an ally training and to challenge themselves to learn more about a community that they may have [already] had experience with but just do not know [it].”

You can see the full schedule for Clemson University Pride Week 2016:

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