Aurora Bellard `17
When students returned from Trinity Days on Wednesday, Oct. 15, they found the campus sidewalks covered with chalk messages for Ally Week. The previous night, members of Trinity’s EROS (Encouraging Respect of Sexualities) stayed up late, chalking the Long Walk, the Summits, the Concrete Jungle, and the Lower Long Walk with serious and humorous statements of support. Some said, “Have a Gay Day” and “Love Knows No Gender.”
With this act, Ally Week commenced. The next five days yielded daily events meant to honor allies and empower others to become allies against anti-LGBT harassment and bullying. Teaming up with multiple organizations, EROS organized events with other students that brought attention to the struggles young gay youth face today, as well as the powerful impact having an ally can make in the community. With guest-directors, a comedian, food, and partying, Ally Week reached out to the Trinity student body in a positive manner, promoting the message that all are equal and deserve love.
The week began quietly with Coming Out Stories at the La Voz Latina House on Vernon. Students gathered in the LVL living room to listen to harrowing stories of students “coming out” to their family.
Being gay is still considered taboo, even sinful, throughout much of American society. As such, coming out to one’s family can result in being kicked out of the house or left to fend for oneself. Someone is being told that he or she is less than human because of who they love. This is the case for many gay youth in America. The stories shed light upon this pertinent step and how coming out can change everything in a person’s life.
Thursday brought guest LGBT filmmaker Jonathan Caouette, who presented his film, “Tarnation,” a home video, documentary, and snapshot fueled tale of his life and his experiences with mental illness and a tragic family. The same night, the Underground held open-mic, which was an opportunity for students to stand up and express themselves. Men and women sang, spoke poems, and even did comedy. It was heart-warming to know that it was all was in recognition of what love can do when it’s used to support others.
Rainbow Shabbat at Hillel House kick started Friday. Seth Browner, co-president of EROS, partly led service and gave a brief talk on Ally Week, Judaism, and homosexuality. However, it was the Spotlight Party at Cleo of Alpha Chi on Friday night that truly showed how large of an impact EROS was making. Packed to the brim with students of all classes, the party roared into the night, never letting up. The constant stream of new and familiar faces bombarded anybody manning the door with questions about EROS and Cleo. Each question helped us realize how loudly our voices had been raised and how little the student body knew about EROS.
Saturday night, well-respected and known comedian, Chris Doucette, lit up Vernon Social. Not holding back with his stinging humor, Doucette even went after the crowd, giving Ally Week its most humorous event and Trinity, a perfect performance.
The wonderful week came to an end with Chapel Brunch on Sunday, where Chaplain Reed opened up discussion on how conflicting sexuality and religion can seem in the world sphere, when in fact Queer Theology has been at the forefront of breaking down barriers and answering the seemingly conflicting question of whether one can be gay and religious.
Though Ally Week was undoubtedly a success, EROS members were met with many obstacles. Some came in the form of harsh criticism on why the group was “forcing” homosexuality on people. This was not only disconcerting, but also confusing to hear coming from fellow Trinity students. The intention was not to force anyone to come out, but to let everyone in the LGBT community on campus know that they have support and others who understand what they’re going through.
The long history of violence and harassment against those in the LGBT community warrants awareness, recognition, and change that depend on the younger generation. EROS is at Trinity to make a difference and to connect.
One day, sexuality will no longer be a topic people will tip toe around or have need to discuss. But, today is not that day. Today, people of all backgrounds and sexualities need to stand up and hold hands, so that one-day people will no longer be judged for their sexual identities.
Ranked number 13th as the most homophobic college in the United States by the Princeton Review, Trinity does need to change. This is written in the fact that ugly and insensitive posts were made all through Ally Week on social media, and that just walking down the long walk, there were numerous remarks about how “nobody cares.”
Everyone can’t care about everything, but it’s important to recognize social injustice and hate; it’s important to create a more welcoming and open campus to all.
From the smiling faces at the Spotlight Party to the people who came to each event, it’s evident that support is indeed present in some ways; it just needs to be made stronger. With Ally Week, EROS hopes that it has furthered this conversation and that Trinity is on its way to changing for the better.