From April 7 to May 25, campus organizations including the Office of Pluralism and Leadership have planned a series of events to commemorate Pride 2023, an annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
Pride 2023 is organized by the student-run Pride committee, which works with OPAL to plan a number of events. Organizers have scheduled the College’s first ever Pride parade for May 7 and the relaunch of the Rainbow Room — a queer study space in Robinson Hall — for April 27. On May 11, the Pride committee will host an LGBTQ+ critical dialogue panel, and on May 5, the House of Lewan will hold its annual Transform drag show, according to OPAL Program Coordinator of Community and Leadership Development Angélique Bouthot.
Unlike past years, Pride 2023 lacks a theme, which allows for Pride to be “up for interpretation by the community,” said Pride 2023 planning committee co-chair Rosario Rosales ’25.
“We just kind of want to experiment with [a themeless Pride] especially because it allows for an openness of events,” she said. “We don’t feel so restricted.”
According to Rosales, the seven member Pride 2023 committee started planning near the end of winter term, when they “consolidated a list of events.” The bulk of the Pride 2023 planning work was student-led and involved budgeting, recruiting volunteers and wrangling student organizations or faculty members to participate at the events.
Administrators from OPAL provided organizers with institutional support, funding and advice when necessary, Rosales said.
When determining the events they wanted for Pride, Rosales said they wanted “at least one huge, go all out event.”
“In this case, [that event] is the Pride parade,” Rosales said. “We have to go all out and we didn’t want two of those kinds of events. It was also just mainly what felt right.”
According to Rosales, the Pride parade on May 7 involves marching from Triangle House to Massachusetts Row, with student speakers and music.
Anna Timchenko ’26, a Pride 2023 volunteer, said they are especially looking forward to the Pride parade.
“I’ve never been to a full-on Pride parade, so it’d be lovely for me to go,” Timchenko said.
In an email statement, Bouthot wrote about the “incredible value” of Pride programming on campus, which provides students of marginalized identities with the knowledge that “they are celebrated.”
“Many places in the US and the world are not safe, physically, emotionally — or in terms of legal protections and access to healthcare — for the LGBTQIA+ community,” Bouthot wrote. “Events like Pride are an opportunity for the community to show up in a visible way to support us and our unique experiences.”
While some of the Pride 2023 events are being organized by the College and the Pride 2023 committee, other events are being independently hosted by student groups across campus, Bouthot wrote. The House of Lewan, a student drag club, is hosting its annual Transform show in the Kemeny courtyard, according to House of Lewan house mother Jaime Aranzabal ’24.
According to Aranzabal, the House of Lewan hosts shows at least once a term. Although Transform was originally a Pride event that was more like a “fashion show,” it has since evolved to become a “drag performance-based show.”
“We build our own little scene here on campus,” Aranzabal said. “It’s House of Lewan’s biggest drag show of the term, and it is always very exciting because we get to go all out in terms of performances and production.”
This year, Transform is especially important due to the political climate, with several states “passing bills specifically attacking LGBT youth [and] banning gender-affirming care and drag,” Aranzabal said. Even now, performing drag often involves “facing some form of hate,” he added.
“We don’t shy away from it or try to make ourselves palatable to others,” Aranzabal said. “It really means a lot to all of our performers to be able to do drag, and so we’re taking this opportunity to show that.”
Pride 2023 also comes at a time when the amount and visibility of anti-trans legislation has risen compared to previous years, Timchenko said.
“There's been a growing movement towards removing the ‘T’ in LGBT, which is gross,” Timchenko said. “I think [Pride 2023] is good to remind people on campus that this is still a visible issue and that we're all united rather than splintered.”
Ultimately, Rosales hopes that this year’s Pride programming allows members of the queer community to feel “good about [their] identity.”
“I hope that they see that there are spaces for them to take up,” she said.